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Salvation Army holiday fundraiser kicks off Friday

Salvation Army kettle fundraiser

Volunteer Brian Hinkle whistles a holiday tune while bell ringing for the Salvation Army’s red kettle donation outside the 15th Avenue Safeway in 2018.

Black Friday shoppers will have a place to use their savings while at local stores — inside the red kettles of Salvation Army volunteers.

The Salvation Army of Longview is seeking dozens of volunteers for its annual holiday fundraiser and celebrating the start of the nonprofit’s red kettles outside local stores from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday at the Longview Fred Meyer. The celebration will include the nonprofit’s brass musicians, board members and mascot.

Red kettles

The local branch of the global Christian nonprofit is aiming to raise $50,000 over the month-long campaign to provide year-round services, like free hot meals, nonperishable food boxes, school supplies and eviction prevention assistance for the needy.

Friday through Christmas Eve, Salvation Army volunteers will ring bells near the nonprofit’s iconic red tins outside nine local locations like the Longview Fred Meyer, both Longview Walmart buildings and the three Safeway locations in Longview and Kelso.

Volunteer Coordinator Karen Ostby said the organization plans to place a kettle outside the Kelso JCPenney door facing Target without a volunteer due to less people signing up to ring bells during the pandemic. Local volunteers also are sourcing funds for their virtual kettles at longview.salvationarmy.org.

Ostby said volunteers include high school students in need of community service hours to graduate. Volunteers also include community groups, businesses and individuals. Ostby suggested participants pair up to pass the two-hour shifts between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. together.

Counting on kindness

Longview Corps Officer and Administrator Major Philip Smith said the pandemic brought additional generosity during last year’s red kettle campaign, and he hopes the giving spirit continues in 2021.

“The need is great for struggling families and individuals, particularly during the holiday season,” he said.

The 156-year-old global nonprofit focuses on helping locals. He said the Salvation Army is among the nonprofits with the lowest overhead costs, where $0.82 of every dollar supports their work, as opposed to operational expenses.

He said Christmas is merrier when locals help each other.

“We are counting on the kindness of our community to come on out to a red kettle and donate,” he said. “It will go a long way to help make Christmas bright for many of our community’s less fortunate.”

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