VIRGINIA — The Salvation Army of Virginia challenged the community to step up during this season’s Red Kettle campaign, especially after falling at least $30,000 short of its goal the previous year.
And the community did just that.
“We set a goal of $43,000” for the red kettles, with an overall campaign target of $143,000, which includes mail-in contributions, said Major Brenda Pittman.
The red kettles, which collected funds starting in November through Dec. 24, brought in $49,000, she said.
“We are on our way to meeting our goal” with the entire campaign, currently at $139,000, which runs through the end of the month.
And it’s vital to do well during the holiday initiative, which sustains the agency throughout the year, Pittman said.
“Every cent stays in the community,” said Salvation Army Advisory Board Chairman Steve Skogman. The Salvation Army of Virginia assists families in Iron Range communities near and far from its home base.
“So many programs can continue because of the generosity of people,” Skogman said.
Those include its food pantry, open by appointment once a month for each family, and the Salvation Army’s Supper Club, which serves 70 to 100 people from 3:50 to 4:50 p.m. each weekday.
The Supper Club is open to everyone, Skogman noted, and serves home-cooked hot meals, including his famous spaghetti once month, meatloaf, casseroles and Salisbury steak.
The Salvation Army of Virginia also assists families on a case-by-case basis with crisis needs, such as money for gas or utilities or lodging after a fire.
The bread table is open from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. and again from 1 to 3 p.m. each weekday.
The agency also supplies individuals, especially children in need, with items such as coats and winter boots.
“Little things,” Skogman said, are being accomplished routinely to help neighbors in need in hopes “it brightens somebody’s life.”
And “people seemed very happy” during the Christmas season, Pittman said.
The Salvation Army provided holiday food baskets to 386 local families — a total of 994 people, she said. A couple thousand toys were distributed to 303 kids, who received five presents each.
Volunteers from Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota handed out the food baskets, and local students set up the Toy Shop.
And about 120 people attended the annual Christmas dinner, held earlier in December.
Even Santa and Mrs. Claus showed up to ring bells at the red kettle locations. Young scouts, families, and volunteers from many area businesses, churches and organizations also helped.
The highest kettle amount in one day totaled $2,200, with volunteers from the Virginia Rotary Club ringing. “That was a good day,” Pittman said.
Another kettle collected nearly $1,800.
One bell ringer consistently spent several hours at a kettle and then headed over to help with the Supper Club, Pittman noted.
“We want to thank everyone. It was an awesome Christmas season,” said the major.
The Salvation Army of Virginia’s next project is to build an addition on the building near the pantry so clients can be served more efficiently and the chapel can be returned to its proper use. Currently, crates of food are stacked on shelves inside the chapel.
Of course, that will take additional funds. But the community comes through when needed, said Skogman and Pittman.
“We had a great group of volunteers this year,” Skogman added. A dinner to honor them is set for April 8.
It takes a whole army to — as the Salvation Army’s slogan goes — “do the most good.”
“The generosity of people is amazing,” Skogman said.