- Associated Press - Sunday, November 20, 2016

DOTHAN, Ala. (AP) - There is something about putting a handful of change in one of the Salvation Army’s red kettles that serves as a catalyst for Christmas giving.

Volunteer bell ringers are already manning kettles around Dothan as part of the organization’s central fundraising effort. They are the first tangible opportunity to give for many Wiregrass residents. It is hard to walk away from hearing a jingle of change from inside a red kettle and not feel good, no matter what your day or week may have been like before.

Last year, red kettle donations helped the local Salvation Army serve 1,800 low income children and 700 low income seniors during the Christmas season, according to Capt. Chris Bryant of the Salvation Army.

Now, dozens of volunteers will greet shoppers at various stores around the Wiregrass, using a simple hand bell to seek pocket change for the work of the charitable organization.

The Salvation Army has been around since 1865. It is a Christian organization created to assist the poor. The Salvation Army is typically one of the first disaster relief groups on the ground to feed those affected and to assist other disaster relief workers. The Salvation Army has also been active locally recently, helping feed search team members who had been looking for Amanda Bond, a missing woman whose body was found Nov. 14.

Bryant said the holiday effort helps fund those causes as well, not just programs that serve those in need around Christmas.

“We hope this will help us raise funds for the entire year, not just for the needy, but for other Salvation Army efforts such as assisting law enforcement and the fire department. We can’t do that without the help of the community,” Bryant said.

The Angel Tree, another Salvation Army project, is already on display at Wiregrass Commons Mall. Residents may pick one or more “angels” from the tree - which represent needy children - and purchase Christmas gifts for them. The Salvation Army fund raising effort covers any unadopted children from the Angel Tree as well.

Anyone interested in volunteering time to be a bell ringer, or to man the Angel Tree registration table at the mall, can contact the Salvation Army at 334-792-1911.


Information from: The Dothan Eagle, https://www.dothaneagle.com

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