ENID, Okla. — As families gather to celebrate Thanksgiving, Salvation Army of Enid is asking for continued support for its holiday programs, and hoping for sufficient support to carry it through the spring.

Red Kettles

Maj. John Edmonds said the Salvation Army’s red kettle bell-ringers are one of the largest fundraisers of the year, and help fund Salvation Army food programs for children and seniors in need, as well as programs such as utility and rent assistance, until March.

The annual Red Kettle campaign kicked off earlier this month, and will ramp up Friday, Edmonds said, with the addition of kettles at both Enid Walmart locations.

Enid donors pushed the Red Kettle campaign past the $100,000 mark last year — the first time Enid has surpassed $100,000 in giving at the kettles, Edmonds said.

Edmonds attributed the record-breaking collections last year to “the kindness of this community, and their generosity and wanting to help each other.”

This year, the Salvation Army has upped the kettle goal to $110,000, in hopes of helping more people during the lean months in January through March.

This year, Edmonds said the Salvation Army is adding some fun to the kettle effort, with a Bedlam Week Challenge. OU and OSU kettles are out at all three Jumbo Foods locations in Enid. Friday and Saturday, the Bedlam kettles will move to both Walmart locations. Donors can choose their favorite team kettle, with the winner having bragging rights after the Bedlam game Saturday.

Whichever team wins on Saturday, and whichever kettle brings in the most money, Edmonds said the real winners will be those in need who rely on Salvation Army programs.

‘It all adds up’

Edmonds said donors don’t have to give big sums of money to make a big impact.

“They don’t realize how much of a difference a little pocket change makes,” Edmonds said. “It all adds up. Putting your change in a kettle helps make a change in someone’s life.”

In addition to cash donations, people also can donate digitally, using their smart phones, at any Red Kettle location.

Edmonds said the Red Kettle effort is being boosted by a record number of volunteers this year. But, he said, “we can always use more volunteers.”

Volunteers can sign up online, at registertoring.com, and put in Enid or the local ZIP code. Bell-ringers also can sign up by calling the Salvation Army at (580) 237-1910.

Community meals

Salvation Army of Enid will host a free community Thanksgiving dinner at 6 p.m. this evening, in the Red Shield Diner at 516 N. Independence.

Salvation Army of Enid also will host a community Christmas dinner, 6 p.m. Dec. 25, and is in need of community donations to support that effort.

Spruce Up a Life

Spruce Up a Life gives donors the opportunity to buy a Christmas tree for $75 and decorate the tree with their own decorations. Each tree is paired with a family in need, and the tree sponsor purchases gifts for the family.

Donors also can choose to sponsor just the tree or just the gifts. UPS packages and delivers the trees and gifts to area families in need in early December.

Edmonds said Salvation Army set a goal of sponsoring 50 families this year, and already has sold 53 Christmas trees, with commitments to provide gifts for the associated families.

“This is the most trees we’ve ever sold, and the most families to be adopted through that program,” Edmonds said.

While the goal already has been surpassed, Edmonds said there remain additional families that could be adopted, “and if there’s anyone who still wants to help, that would be great.”

Gifts and trees will go out Dec. 8 to the families, but anyone who wants to sponsor a family in need through Spruce Up a Life can purchase a tree and return gifts by Dec. 4 at the latest.

For more information, contact the Salvation Army at (580) 237-1910.

Angel Tree, Silver Bells, Teen Angels

The Angel Tree, Silver Bells and Teen Angel programs allow donors to purchase Christmas gifts for, respectively, children 12 and younger, low-income seniors and teens ages 13-17 in the community.

In recent years, Angel Tree donors provided gifts for more than 700 children and Silver Bells donors brightened Christmas for 50-100 seniors each year. Edmonds said he expects the Silver Bells program to serve more than 100 seniors this year.

Salvation Army added this year the Teen Angel program, previously run by Denny Price Family YMCA.

The Teen Angels are available for adoption alongside the Silver Bells and Angels in the donation site south of the Food Court at Oakwood Mall.

Between all of its programs, Edmonds said he expects the Salvation Army to help about 2,500 people in need in the local community between now and Christmas.

“We couldn’t do it without the support and generosity of the community,” Edmonds said. “It’s a whole city-wide effort.”

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Neal is health, military affairs and religion reporter and columnist for the Enid News & Eagle. Follow him on Twitter, @jamesnealwriter, and online at jamesrneal.com.
Have a question about this story? Do you see something we missed? Do you have a story idea for James? Send an email to jneal@enidnews.com.

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