Ring, ring, ding, dong, ding — it’s that time of the year again when Salvation Army volunteers can be seen and heard ringing bells outside Publix, Walmart, the post office and other public places, their smiles as big as their hearts. They know that every coin, dollar and check put into the bright red kettle by their side goes to meet human needs right here in our community.
While those needs exist 365 days a year, The Salvation Army has only one major annual fundraiser, and the Red Kettle Campaign is it. That’s why every donation, no matter how small, can make a huge impact. Empty stomachs can be filled, a person who doesn’t have a place to sleep can find shelter and the direction of a child’s life can be changed through structured activities.
Just ask Elaine McNeal. “Everything we have here, somebody gave us the money to buy. Every program, every activity we do, someone helped make happen. We’re always looking for ways to make ends meet. It’s our job to stretch every dollar,” says the local nonprofit’s volunteer coordinator and event planner, whose title doesn’t begin to describe the stretching she does.
“We count on donations of all kinds. For example, places like Outback, Carrabba’s, Chick-fil-A, Panera and Wawa give us food items they have left over at the end of the day that we freeze and use to stock our mobile canteen that goes out into the community twice a week. We also have food drives, and sometimes people will stop by our offices and drop off things.”