Gulf Coast Salvation Army prepares for busy holiday season

Salvation Army
Salvation Army(Andres Fuentes)
Published: Oct. 24, 2021 at 12:52 PM CDT
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BILOXI, Miss. (WLOX) - As the holiday season creeps closer and closer, the Salvation Army is making sure shoppers will see the traditional red kettles and Angel Trees while they’re going in and out of the store.

It’s an exciting time for the charity, but even more so for Area Commander Maj. Jerry Friday, who is taking in his first Christmas time on the Coast.

“It blows my mind when I heard the stories about Christmas last year,” Friday said. “I cannot wait to see that firsthand for myself.”

While we are still in October, Friday and his staff have been getting ready for red kettle season after COVID-19 reduced volunteers and other efforts last year.

The plan for 2021 is to have 20 kettles outside of stores that usually bring in large donations. Those sites will be manned for six days each week either by volunteers or paid workers. The goal is to raise $230,000 for the charity to use for emergency and community relief efforts.

The annual donation drive is no easy task, but it’s made easier with community support.

“We would hope and pray with all our hearts that we can find volunteers, civic groups, church groups, youth groups, any kind of group we will take you,” Friday said.

Shoppers can expect to see kettles in grocery stores closer to Thanksgiving and in Walmart Superstores after Black Friday. While preparations are underway, the Salvation Army is also getting its Angel Tree program ready so that shoppers can buy presents and other necessities for children in need.

Trees should be set up at stores, Edgewater Mall and the Kroc Center by early November. For families wanting to register for Angel Tree, sign up will be at The Salvation Army Center of Hope from Oct. 25-28.

Last year, more than 1,000 children received gifts from the program.

“We believe whole-heartedly that that number will increase this year,” Friday said.

With many families still in tough times, the Salvation Army wants to help but can only do as much as the community gives.

“It’s a little bit of a challenge this year but we are going in faith,” Friday said.

For those interested in ringing bells for red kettle season, visit this link. For questions about volunteering, call The Salvation Army Kroc Center MS Gulf Coast at (228) 207-1218.

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