By Bob Belcher
Corsicana Daily Sun
The morning had the makings of a crisp winter day — bright sunshine, cool weather, hot chocolate for all.
With the ringing of the bells and the playing of the bands, the Corsicana Salvation Army officially began its Christmas Red Kettle campaign Friday morning at Wal-Mart.
Complete with the Corsicana High School band, the Salvation Army’s Divisional Band from Dallas, Salvation Army board members and Mayor Chuck McClanahan, the fund-raising campaign — responsible for about 70 percent of the agency’s annual budget — began with McClanahan making the first donation.
Starting Monday, the familiar red kettles and bell-ringing attendants will be in force throughout the city, greeting those who come and go with a “Merry Christmas” and a friendly smile. Donations to the kettles help in a variety of ways, explained Sgt. Toby Romack of the Corsicana Army unit.
“We rely solely on donations and the generosity of those who give,” Romack said. “Eighty-eight cents of every dollar that goes into those kettles goes back into this community .”.”
While focusing on Christmas with the campaign, the needs filled by the Salvation Army are indeed a “year-round” job.
“(The needs) were big last year, and it has grown even more this year,” Romack said. “We’re seeing a lot of new people come through out doors that have never come to the Salvation Army for assistance before.”
Romack said about 50 percent of those who are seeking assistance from the Salvation Army this year are first-timers.
“There are a lot of hurting people in this community,” he said. “Our lobby is swamped with people everyday, needing everything from rent assistance to utility assistance, they need food, medical prescriptions, clothing and furniture.”
Romack also said the holiday season, always a busy one for the agency, will find them helping several hundred families with Christmas gifts and meals.
“We helped 633 families last year, and it’s going to be bigger than that this year,” he said.
And the spirit of giving has grown as well, he told the kickoff crowd.
“Your generosity has been overwhelming over the years, and we know that it will be even more than that this year,” he said.
McClanahan, making the first donation in the kettle after cutting a bright, red ribbon, praised the organization for the work it does.
“This is the oldest charitable fund-raiser of its kind in the United States,” McClanahan said. “They see to the needs of a lot of people ... but more than that, they tend to the spiritual needs of the people, and that’s what sets the Army apart.”
McClanahan urged everyone to take part in the spirit of giving to support the work of the Salvation Army locally.
“Give of your time, your money, anything you can to help this succeed,” he said.
Bob Belcher may be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Want to “Soundoff” on this story? Email: email@example.com