Kingsport Times News Saturday, September 20, 2014
Community Sunday Stories

Salvation Army seeking volunteers to serve as bell ringers

December 10th, 2013 9:50 am by Amanda J. Vicars

“There is no reward equal to that of doing the most good to the most people in the most need.”

This quote, spoken by one of the founders of The Salvation Army, Evangeline Booth in 1919,  inspired the well-known slogan, “Doing the Most Good” which the charitable organization continues to demonstrate today, both internationally and regionally.

The Kingsport Corps of The Salvation Army, located at 505 Dale Street, opened its doors in 1929 and since that time has fed, clothed, sheltered, and collected and distributed Christmas gifts to thousands of those “in the most need” every year.

In 2012 alone, the local Corps unit aided 6,582 impoverished people through their social services program which supplies rent, utilities, food bags and clothing vouchers. Through their shelter program, they provided 10,554 nights of lodging. The Salvation Army building facilitates 50 homeless citizens at any given time with 15 additional beds reserved for struggling veterans - and served 121,163 meals.

We serve “breakfast, lunch and dinner 365 days a year,” Major Anthony Baso, Commanding Officer of the Kingsport Corps of The Salvation Army explained. We're always here to help; there's even someone on staff throughout the night, so “we don't close ever.”

With the holiday season already under way, the caring corps prepares to fulfill the needs of as many poverty-stricken individuals as possible this Christmas through its seasonal assistance programs. 

The Salvation Army kicked off its annual Angel Tree Program and Red Kettle Drive on Saturday, Nov. 23, and, with only a three week period between Thanksgiving and Christmas this year, there is even more of a sense of urgency to enlist volunteers to fight for their cause, especially those willing to take up the kettle bell.

Red Kettles will be set up at 20 locations throughout the greater Kingsport area at stores like Food City, Ingles, Kroger, Wal-Greens and Big Lots.

Major Baso said The Salvation Army employs Kettle Drive bell ringers at minimum wage to fill the spots left open by lack of volunteers.

“Spending money to make money,” the association appropriately provides jobs to the homeless they assist throughout the rest of the year so that they gain career experience and confidence to succeed while giving a hand up to others like themselves.

However, “we have one week less than we had last year,”  Major Baso said. That's a $10,000 to $15,000 drop in donations, so “we still need volunteers: we need individuals, church groups, civic clubs, schools... whoever to help so that we can offset any overhead salaries.”

Although last year's Kingsport Kettle Drive donations totaled $134,580.16, the local unit of The Salvation Army has adjusted its projected goal for the 2013 Christmas Eve deadline to $120,000 in reflection of the restricted time frame. But, “hopefully we'll go past it,” Major Baso stated optimistically.

Likewise, the Angel Tree Program, whose deadline for gift submission is Dec. 13, anticipates assisting 1,800 families (5,000 children) through the distribution of donated gifts on Dec. 19.

Other holiday events hosted by The Salvation Army include a Nursing Home Blitz for the elderly in our community, “where we visit the nursing homes and we give them gifts,” Major Baso said. 

Also, the annual Christmas Eve meal is open to all the age demographics The Salvation Army serves and will be held between 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

With “82 cents of every dollar” going to direct services at The Salvation Army, anyone who gives their money, gifts or efforts this season can be sure they're “doing the most good” with their donation, making Christmas merrier for those less fortunate.

For more information on The Salvation Army or how to volunteer, visit them on Facebook or call 423-246-6671.

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