Salvation Army calls on community for holiday season

By Nick Blank nick@claytodayonline.com
Posted 11/17/21

MIDDLEBURG – From Keystone Heights to Argyle Forest, Clay County has 22 locations for Salvation Army red kettles, where the money collected funds the organization’s charitable …

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Salvation Army calls on community for holiday season

Posted

MIDDLEBURG – From Keystone Heights to Argyle Forest, Clay County has 22 locations for Salvation Army red kettles, where the money collected funds the organization’s charitable services.

Salvation Army bell ringers, usually posted in front of retail stores, are an iconic part of American culture, Clay County Corp Officer Maj. Phillip Irish said. The red kettles signify the holidays as a time to provide to help those less fortunate.

“It’s like being able to participate in a Norman Rockwell painting. It’s like stepping into history when you pay it forward, literally,” he said.

Now, the Salvation Army is bracing for a busy holiday season and seeking seasonal workers and volunteers.

Phillip Irish said the organization is down 20 workers of what it needs for bell ringers. He said staff was calling people on Salvation Army lists, though for some people, it’s difficult to come back.

“We are helping people who need a little extra,” he said. “We are asking ourselves, are we going to be able to field fundraising and activities the way we usually do?”

He said the Salvation Army had challenges in 2020, but pulled through.

“There was an abundance of compassion and generosity in the community last year,” Phillip Irish said. “We were worried we weren’t going to meet our goals, but we did. It’s an interesting creature this year.”

The Salvation Army’s first day out this year is Nov. 19 at a few locations. Black Friday is when the organization does a full-court press, he said, and called the reality of the staffing shortages stark. He likened missing a worker in front of a busy store during the holidays to a thunderstorm preventing any money from being collected.

“We have basically four weeks to raise money for the whole year or not. We don’t get a chance to do it later,” Phillip Irish said. “If we only have half the people we need, it’s likely we’ll get half the funds we need.”

Maj. Lynn Irish, also a Clay County Corp Officer, said there are 371 children set to receive presents from the organization’s Angel Tree program. A sponsor that adopts an “Angel” receives an Angel Tree tag that includes a child’s age and gift wish. The toys purchased are returned to the Salvation Army and later given to the parents prior to Christmas. The deadline to send the Salvation Army is gifts is Dec. 6, a week before the Dec. 13 distribution day for presents.

“For many of the kids here in Clay County, if it wasn’t for Angel Tree, they wouldn’t get anything for Christmas,” she said. “There’s excitement because of Angel Tree from the kids. We have generous people in the community.”

To reach the Salvation Army about becoming a seasonal worker or participating in the Angel Tree program, contact (904)-276-6677.

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