SIDNEY — “Every child deserves a little hope on Christmas.”
With those words, Captain Chastity Hansen, Sidney Salvation Army, talks about the importance of the Red Kettle Drive, the Christmas Angel program and the food boxes which help make Christmas a little bit happier for Shelby County families.
Joseph and Chastity Hansen, along with other Salvation Army volunteers, are gearing up for their busiest time of the year. The Red Kettle Drive kicked off Friday, Nov. 9, at Sidney Foodtowne.
“The program will begin at Kroger and Walmart on Friday, Nov. 23,” said Joseph. “We’ll have bell ringers at the kettles from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. each day.”
There are four locations of red kettles and the bell ringers in Sidney. Walmart counts as two locations because the bell ringers are located at each door to the store.
“It takes a minimum of 11 people a day at one location,” said Joseph. “So we need at least 44 people a day to man all four. We want the bell ringers to make the event fun. We encourage them to play instruments and sing songs.
“We are in desperate need of volunteers to ring the bells,” he said.
Volunteers can sign up online to ring the bell, they said. Those wishing to sign up should visit the Salvation Army’s Facebook account, https://www.facebook.com/SidneyTSA/ and then the top story on the site will be the sign-up location. Or the person can go to either the November sign-up link, https://www.signupgenius.com/go/4090a45a9ac2ca2fe3-2018 or the December sign-up link, https://www.signupgenius.com/go/4090a45a9ac2ca2fe3-20181.
“We like people to sign up for a two-hour commitment,” said Joseph.
If a person has trouble signing up online, or doesn’t have computer access, they should contact Deb Mentges, 937-497-4500 for assistance.
Little red kettles, he said, will be located at businesses throughout the county. Locations include People’s Federal Bank, Anna and Jackson Center; Village Salon and Spa, Anna; Jenny’s Flower Shop, Botkins; and Everyday Technologies, Sidney Tire, Best Tire, Sidney Body CarStar, People’s Federal Bank, Downtown Barber Shop, The Medicine Shop, Hair Crush, Shoe Sensation, Sidney Shelby County Senior Center, Bunny’s Pharmacy, Sidney Flower Shop, Sidney Daily News, NAPA, Lochard’s Hardware, Clancy’s, Davis Meats, PSG Automotive,Carquest, Tim Horton’s Marathon on Hoewisher Road, Marathon on Fair Road, Buckeye Ford, Farm Stand Pizza, Shelby Beverage Dock, Dan Hemm’s, Alcove Restaurant, Ron and Nita’s, Ulbrich’s Bakery and Dekker’s Flowers.
The goal for this year’s Red Kettle Drive is $55,000.
The application deadline for the Angel Tree program has passed, and Santa’s elves are trying to find community members to adopt the angels.
“The program is for kids birth to 18 years of age and senior citizens,” said Chastity. “Right now we have 534 kids signed up and 100-plus seniors signed up.”
An Angel Tree with tags is already in place at WalMart, she said. Various corporations and private donors will adopt angels during the holiday season.
“The tags and gifts have to be returned to us by Dec. 6,” she said. “The gifts are brought here and each tag has a code on it. We’ll bag everything up and the parents of the children and senior citizens will come and pick up their toys and a food box.
“We’re also partnering with Mark’s Bike Drive and every child who requests a bike as a gift will receive one,” she said.
Between the gifts and food boxes for the entire family, Chastity said they will be assisting 800 to 900 people in more than 300 families.
“We are feeding so many families that we’re looking for food donations,” said Chastity.
Items for the food boxes include frozen hams and turkeys, and non-perishable food items such as corn, instant potatoes, cake mixes, canned gravy, canned sweet potatoes, canned meats, soups, macaroni and cheese, bagged rice or pastas.
“This community is a very generous and compassionate community,” sad Chastity. “They always come through for us and we know they’ll do it again this year.”
The annual Stuff the Bus program will be held Dec. 7 at the Sidney Walmart store.
“We’ll be there from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.,” said Joseph. “People can go into the story, buy a toy and drop it off on their way out. We do this program in partnership with 105.5 TAM FM radio.”
The couple said if a person doesn’t want to adopt an angel, donations of gifts and food many be donated to the Salvation Army to supplement the gifts for the angel tree program.
The Angel Tree gifts and food boxes will be distributed to parents on Dec. 20 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
“We want the gifts to be a surprise for the kids,”said Joseph. “For the child, that’s the happy part of Christmas Day.”
The couple are appreciative to all of the Shelby County donors.
“It’s an honor and a privilege to serve this community,” said Chastity. “Thank you to our generous donors. We couldn’t do these programs without our faithful donors.”
They have an Army of Hope donor team in which the participants donate $500 or more during the calendar year.
For more information about any of the programs, call the Hansens at 937-492-8412 or email them, email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Reach the writer at 937-538-4822.