The Holyoke Salvation Army unit’s Tiffany Watson, Ann McConnell and Cecilia Marquez, pictured from left, hope to collect at least $1,500 for the county in the red kettles before Christmas. — Johnson Publications
Ring in the holidays by volunteering
The Salvation Army is an internationally recognized name in charitable giving, but many right here in Holyoke don’t know that the community has its own service extension unit.
It’s true; it’s housed right downtown at the Phillips County Department of Human Services, and the familiar faces of Ann McConnell, Cecilia Marquez and Tiffany Watson keep the local Salvation Army unit going.
This holiday season the organization will be a more visible presence in Phillips County as volunteers ring the bell for donations. It will be the first year for the iconic red kettles to appear in the county, but certainly most have seen the enthusiastic bell ringers somewhere during the Christmas season.
The primary red kettle will be set up outside Holyoke Marketplace from Nov. 24-Dec. 23, typically Monday-Friday from 4-7 p.m., Saturday from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. and Sunday 2-4 p.m. Of course, for that to be possible, a number of volunteers will be needed.
For Holyoke’s Monday, Dec. 4, Country Christmas, bell ringers will be stationed at the mini park at the intersection of Denver Street and Interocean Avenue.
On weekdays, volunteers will sign up for one-hour shifts, and on weekends, the shifts last two hours. Each shift will need two volunteers, for safety, and at least one must be over the age of 18.
For Haxtun residents, the kettle will travel to the other side of the county for Haxtun Country Christmas on Tuesday, Nov. 28, as well as the weekends of Dec. 2-3 and 16-17 at Haxtun Super’s. There will also be a counter kettle set up within Haxtun Super’s for giving throughout the season.
All in all, over 150 volunteer slots still need to be filled to make Phillips County’s inaugural red kettle season a success, but organizers have no doubt the community will come through. Watson said that she hopes it is a good service opportunity, and Marquez noted that she would like to see the community really get involved.
To sign up for a shift, visit www.signupgenius.com/go/508044ea8a628a1fb6-bell or call 970-854-2280. Signing up can also be done by emailing email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
The local unit has set a goal to raise at least $1,500 during the month-long campaign. All money put in the Phillips County red kettles will stay in Phillips County, they emphasized.
McConnell, who is the chairperson of the local unit, explained that the Salvation Army primarily offers aid in emergency situations. If someone comes to them who might be better helped through other services, her office helps direct them toward the right place.
Whether providing gas to someone trying to get to an out-of-town job interview or helping with a prescription that can’t wait, they typically help with urgent one-time plights. And those who receive aid, McConnell explained, are encouraged to give back to Salvation Army in the future when they get back on their feet.
At Christmastime each year, Holyoke’s Salvation Army also helps with the Zion Lutheran Church adopt-a-family distribution, as well as providing hams for Haxtun’s Christmas food baskets.
For those who didn’t know Holyoke had a Salvation Army unit, consider passing on the good fortune that has kept their services from being a personal necessity. Many who do go to the organization for help are people who never thought they’d need to go to the Salvation Army for help themselves.
“Hopefully if we have a good turnout, it’s something we can do again,” McConnell said of the red kettle program.