ENID, Okla. — Salvation Army of Enid is expanding its services for families in need this Christmas season, and is looking for donors and volunteers to support its annual holiday campaign.
Maj. John Edmonds said the Salvation Army is growing its popular Spruce Up a Life and Giving Tree campaigns to include teen recipients and is working to make the donation site in the retail space south of the food court at Oakwood Mall into a fun destination for families.
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.
Sponsors will be able to decorate their trees in the open retail space south of the food court at Oakwood Mall, Nov. 4-8, culminating in a kickoff event Nov. 9.
Edmonds said Salvation Army has set a goal of providing trees and gifts to 50 Enid families in need this year, but will provide more, if more sponsors are available.
Angel Tree, Silver Bells
Demand also has been up in enrollment for the Silver Bells and Angel Tree programs, which allow donors to purchase Christmas gifts for, respectively, low-income seniors and children 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.
In addition to the Silver Bells and Angels, Edmonds said the Salvation Army this year is taking over the Teen Angel program, previously run by the YMCA. Like the Silver Bells and Angels programs, Teen Angels represent teens, ages 13-17, who are in need in the community.
The Teen Angels will be available for adoption alongside the Silver Bells and Angels in the donation site at Oakwood Mall.
Sign-up for assistance still available
Edmonds said Salvation Army already has received requests from about 300 families for assistance during the Christmas season. But, he said, Salvation Army will continue to accept requests from families, and for the Angel, Teen Angel and Silver Bells programs until Nov. 9.
To request assistance, call Myranda Estudiante at (580) 237-1910.
The kick-off event for the Salvation Army's Christmas campaigns will begin at 4:30 p.m. Nov. 9 at Oakwood Mall, in the space south of the food court.
Santa Claus will be available for photos from 4:30 to 6 p.m., and from 7:30-9 p.m. The kick-off ceremony will be 6-7:30 p.m.
Enid High School football coach Rashaun Woods and Enid Mayor George Pankonin will be the special guests. The Northern Oklahoma College Enid Jets baseball team also will be recognized for winning the NJCAA National Championship.
A Christmas destination
Edmonds said the fun won't end at the donation site in Oakwood Mall after the kick-off event. The Salvation Army is working to make it a family destination throughout the holiday season, he said.
"It's a Christmas destination," he said. "When they come to the mall this year, they will see the Spruce Up a Life trees, and they will see Santa there, there will be cocoa and cookies, they can come in and take an angel off one of our trees, and just have a great time. It's really a destination point this year."
Santa will be available in the mall donation site during the Nov. 9 kick-off, and then 10 a.m. to noon and 1-6 p.m. every Saturday up to Christmas.
The Red Kettle campaign, which is one of the Salvation Army's biggest fundraisers of the year, also will begin at the Nov. 9 kick-off.
Volunteers and paid workers are being sought to be bell-ringers for the annual campaign. This year, bell-ringers have the option to 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.
A new addition to the Red Kettle campaign this year is the Red Kettle Challenge, which offers businesses, churches and civic groups the opportunity to adopt their own Red Kettle to ring during their functions.
Edmonds said the challenge is for each organization that adopts a Red Kettle to raise at least $1,000 to support Salvation Army services in the community.
Anyone wishing to adopt a Red Kettle for the challenge should contact Maj. John Edmonds at (580) 237-1910.
The Salvation Army will be serving free dinners to any in need at 6 p.m. on both Thanksgiving and Christmas days. Volunteers and donors are needed to support those events.
A word of thanks
Whether it's volunteering to man a Red Kettle, to serve dinner on Thanksgiving, sponsoring a Spruce Up a Life tree or adopting an Angel or Silver Bell, Edmonds said volunteers make the Salvation Army programs possible.
"We are very thankful to our community, because we couldn't do it without them," Edmonds said. "We will probably help 2,000 people in our community this year, and we couldn't do it without our volunteers and donors."
To enroll for or donate to these programs, or to volunteer with the Salvation Army, contact the office at 516 N. Independence, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. weekdays, or call (580) 237-1910.