kettle drive

Salvation Army Lt. Alphonso Hughes loads a kettle and stand in his car Wednesday. The annual Salvation Army kettle drive is currently in full swing, and is in need of more volunteers.

Not all have a chance to see firsthand how generous this community can be.

A unique perspective from which to witness the giving nature of the Golden Isles, though, is the Red Kettle stations manned around Brunswick and St. Simons for the Salvation Army’s annual holiday fundraiser.

Bell ringers have a chance to see people from all walks of life take a moment to support a good cause.

“You oftentimes see people who really don’t have gifts to spare, but they give,” said Lt. Alphonso Hughes, corps officer for the Brunswick Salvation Army. “You also get to meet people and hear their different stories and backgrounds and about how the Salvation Army has helped them and their families.”

The local Red Kettle campaign has a fundraising goal this year of $55,000. All of that money will stay local, Hughes said. The campaign runs through Dec. 24, and the Salvation Army is currently seeking additional bell ringers.

Bell ringers can either join the campaign as paid workers or as volunteers. Paid workers are stationed by their kettle from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., while volunteers are asked to cover four-hour shifts.

“The only fundraising that the Salvation Army does here is this six-week fundraiser, and what we raise in those six weeks really helps us for the next year,” Hughes said.

The money raised by the Red Kettle campaign supports the local Salvation Army’s work throughout the rest of the year.

“It’s going to stay right in Brunswick, helping to fight homelessness, which we do 365 days a year,” Hughes said. “It’s going to help somebody’s who’s fallen down on their luck and they can’t pay their light bill, which we do 365 days a year. It also helps supplement our food pantry.”

The Salvation Army is also seeking support for its annual Angel Tree campaign, through which community members can “adopt” an angel and purchase Christmas gifts for children ages birth to 12.

This year’s local Angel Tree has around 560 angels. Those interested in adopting an angel or donating to the gift drive are asked to do so by Dec. 13.

Angels who are not adopted, called “Forgotten Angels,” will still receive gifts from the Salvation Army’s bank of toys and clothing, so Hughes said donations to that bank of gifts are welcome.

“We encourage, even if you don’t want to adopt an angel, for you to still give a donation of toys or clothing to the Salvation Army, and we will fill up an angel bag with those donated items,” he said.

This year, the Salvation Army has partnered with Coastal Georgia Area Community Action Authority and will require families who receive gifts through the Angel Tree program to take a financial literacy class next year.

Those interested in working as a bell ringer or supporting the Angel Tree program can contact the Salvation Army at 912-265-9381. Stations for the Red Kettle campaign this year are located at all local Winn-Dixies, local Walmarts and Sam’s Club, Harris Teeter and Chick-fil-A on St. Simons and Hobby Lobby in Brunswick.

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