The Salvation Army is seen throughout the Christmas season in the form of jingling bells outside store fronts and trees filled with paper angels with a needy child’s name. It is the season of giving and the Salvation Army helps those who need it most.
“Knowing the people who apply, come distribution day there are lots of happy tears, especially when you’re walking out with someone and their toys for Christmas. Knowing someone and being able to hug their neck and it’s just an emotional day to know that you’re the one who can put something into someone’s hands who wouldn’t otherwise have it,” said Salvation Army Lieutenant Ashley Reckline.
Those who are in need in the area can apply for their children to receive certain gifts and clothing during Christmas. Their name, age and size is put onto a paper angel which is hung on a tree for someone to pick up, buy for and return the items in time for Christmas.
Reckline has been a part of the Salvation Army since she was a child and now serves as Lieutenant for the Middlesboro area office. Since she began, she has noticed a significant decline in the number of families applying for help.
“I hope this (lower number) means people were able to find jobs and get on their feet and support their families, especially during the holidays,” said Reckline.
In Middlesboro, Angel Trees can be found in the Middlesboro Mall near Bath and Body Works and at Walmart. The gifts, unused and unwrapped, can be taken back to the angel pick-up sites or dropped off at the Salvation Army office.
If you want to help but cannot make a commitment to give all of the gifts on an angel, donations are needed for the age groups of younger than 1-year to 3-years and 10-years to 12-years old.
Volunteers also spend countless hours standing at store fronts in the area to ring bells to raise money for their programming and community efforts. The Kettle Bell donation sites are located at Walmart, Kroger, JCPenney, Roses’s and Food City. Bell ringers will be there until Christmas Eve.
Last year a total of $114,000 was raised in Southeastern Kentucky alone. Their new goal is $120,000. They are looking for volunteers, individuals or groups, that would be available for a few hours to help out.
“It’s really the only fundraiser that we do, so it’s important to us. It’s what helps us function through the year and be able to do what we do, so we’re hoping we can hit that goal,” said Lieutenant Chris Reckline.
Money that is raised through the Kettle Bell program stays locally and benefits the needy in the Bell County area.
Reach Kelsey Gerhardt at 606-302-9093 or on Twitter @kgerhardtmbdn.