Community support vital to

Published 12:00 am Sunday, November 4, 2001

Salvation Army services


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When a company wants to promote its product, it looks for celebrities to hawk its wares. The Michael Jordans and Cindy Crawfords of the world attract a lot of attention and bring in big bucks for companies selling everything from shoes to toothpaste whiteners.

So, the Pike County Salvation Army Service Center is taking a cue from Nike, Wheaties and the gang.

Once again, it’s

red kettle time for the Salvation Army and the "army’ is planning to conscript local personalities as bell ringers on Celebrity Saturdays during the holiday season which will begin Nov. 19 and continue through Dec. 24.

"Following the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon Sept. 11, the Salvation Army has had a strong presence in New York and Washington, D.C. because of the great needs there," said Cindy Duke, director of the local Salvation Army center. "But, the effects of the terrorist attacks are being felt everywhere and Pike County is no exception."

People have responded generously to the needs in New York and Washington D.C. and Duke said she is proud to see people are pulling together to help their fellow countrymen. However, there are still great needs in Pike County.

"At this time of the year, we have almost depleted our funds," she said. "Electric bills were extremely high this summer and we responded to so many requests from the elderly members of our community who are living on fixed incomes and just could not pay their bills."

Because of the large number of requests for services from the Pike County Salvation Army this year, there is a need for a very successful red kettle campaign, Duke said.

"Last year, we collected about $13,000 in donations from our red kettle campaign and that was just a drop in the bucket compared to what we needed. With the way the economy is and the unrest in our country, I’m not sure how successful our campaign will be this year."

About 95 percent of the funding of the local Salvation Army Service Center comes from donations, including the red kettle campaign, and sales at the thrift shop. The other 5 percent comes from the United Way and local churches.

"To boost interest in and response to our red kettle campaign, we decided to ask local personalities to be our Celebrity Saturday bell ringers," Duke said. "The celebrities will be divided into five groups – athletes, media, business people, politicians and law enforcement and emergency personnel. We hope to have some friendly competition among these bell ringers and, therefore, boost our kettle donations."

Duke said a plea is going out to churches, schools, clubs, organizations and individuals to be bell ringers on the other days during the holiday season.

"It would be wonderful if these groups would take one day, or two, and ring for us," she said. "Individual volunteers are greatly needed and you can donate as many hours as you would like or as few. We appreciate every minute that is volunteered and everyone who volunteers their time."

Every penny that is collected in Pike County stays in Pike County.

"The Salvation Army is people helping their neighbors," Duke said. "Our overhead expenses are about 12 percent, so that means that 88 percent of our donations and collections go to services. The Salvation Army is one of the most accountable charities in the world and we are proud to have the trust of the American people."

The Salvation Army provides temporary service to those who are placed in emergency-type situations, including those resulting from loss of income, disasters, illnesses and domestic situations.

"We provide a wide range of services," Duke said. "We have shelters for abused women, unwed mothers and transients. We provide rehabilitation for those with addictions. Every year we send Pike County children to summer camp. We feed the homeless and cloth them. We provide gas assistance in emergency situations or bus tickets. We have a food bank and provide assistance with heating and cooling for the elderly. We do so much. The list could go on and on, but we can only do with what we have and, right now, we are in need."

The needs include donations of clothing, furniture and odds and ends to the Thrift Shop on the square in downtown Troy. And, cash donations are always welcomed.

"But right now, our greatest need is for volunteer bell ringers for our red kettle campaign," Duke said. "So, we are asking groups and individuals to volunteer a little of their time this year so that life can be a little better for their neighbors in need.

"As we enter the season of giving, one of the greatest gifts you can give is your time. So, please consider being a bell ringer. You will receive a blessing from the experience."

To volunteer your services or make arrangements for a group, call Duke at 807-0200.