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Annual Red Kettle Campaign off and running

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"Ring a Bell for Hope" is the theme for The Salvation Army Red Kettle Campaign which officially has its 2011 holiday season start in the Fargo-Moorhead-West Fargo area this morning (Nov. 16). The kick-off event gets underway at 9 a.m. in the JC Penney wing of West Acres Shopping Center at 3902 13th Ave. S., Fargo.

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Speakers will include Captain Bill Mealy and Captain Ann Mealy of The Salvation Army as well as former Fargo mayor Bruce Furness who is serving as honorary kettle chairperson. Several sponsors and bell ringers also plan to attend.

Bill Mealy will announce this year's campaign goal, while Furness will provide comments and issue a community challenge.

The Salvation Army has been serving Cass and Clay counties for 114 years, committed to caring for the whole person, body, soul and spirit with integrity and respect, using creative solutions to positively transform lives.

Anyone in need is eligible for assistance, whether they are homeless or local families experiencing adverse situations.

Toward that resolve, the Army's spiritual and social services affect the lives of thousands of people in the community each year. This holiday season alone, service will be provided to more than 1,800 families.

Consequently, the implementation of the Red Kettle Campaign is always a significant one since The Salvation Army relies on community support to provide numerous programs and services to those in need. In fact, the Army receives more financial support from the general public than any other charity in America; and all gifts are used in the donor's region unless the donor requests otherwise.

Monies from the Red Kettle Campaign are used to help support local Salvation Army services including: a daily hot meal program that serves breakfast and a noon meal five days a week, lunch on Saturday and an evening meal on Sunday all year long; Thanksgiving and Christmas baskets for the needy; visits and gifts to local nursing home residents; and year-round emergency assistance to anyone in need.

A total of 32 kettle locations will be staffed by volunteers throughout the campaign with several special sponsorship days set aside. Bells will be ringing from today through Dec. 24, Monday through Saturday (except Thanksgiving Day), from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.

In order to make everything work, from the meal serving to the red kettle donation collecting, there is an ongoing need for volunteers who are a vital asset to The Salvation Army operation. During the year 2010, volunteer hours totaled 23,495, frequently involved in the feeding program, personal care room, Family Store, Donation Center, and serving on the Emergency Disaster Services team.

Also in 2010, services were provided to 21,303 people in crises in the community in a variety of assistance areas: personal, housing, clothing/furniture, utility, disaster and holiday; personal car kits; and nursing home and incarceration sites visited.

In the area of flood response, total funds of $16,629 were designated along with over 3,000 volunteer hours that resulted in 35,000 meals and 100,000 beverages being served.

The Salvation Army Family Service offices are located at the Corps Community Center, 304 Roberts St. in Fargo. Appointment times are Monday through Thursday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Clothing and furniture donations are also welcome and will be accepted at the Donation Center, 1503 1st Ave. N., Moorhead, phone 218-233-7347.

The Salvation Army is a branch of the Christian Church offering regular Sunday and Wednesday services. For more information and times call 232-5565.

For more information or to make arrangements to volunteer, contact Community Relations Director Gerri Leach at 701-356-2689 or gerrileach@usc.salvationarmy.org

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