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The season of giving

The week before Thanksgiving is synonymous with the start of the annual Salvation Army red kettle campaign.

Once again you can't miss these traditional generators of 'goodwill.'

They seem to be out there everywhere greeting shoppers with their smiling faces and bell ringing as they are stationed in entryways of a variety of metro businesses - 33 different locations to be exact, staffed by 3,500 volunteers committed to the cause.

This year's goal is $650,000 for the non-profit organization that is always 'there' with services and caring for the less fortunate men, women and children in our communities, not only during the holiday season but each and every day of the year, with their ongoing role to provide assistance to the needy in the form of monetary assistance, a meals program, food baskets, travel aid, and emergency disaster assistance.

Last year's campaign earned a record $744,000 in its six weeks of activity. This year organizers and promoters are hoping to do even better as the kettles are manned through Christmas Eve Day, Dec. 24.

It goes without saying that the campaign is vital to the Salvation Army's operation, with the campaign earning approximately 60 percent of the organization's annual budget.

My first introduction to the 2010 holiday campaign was this last weekend as I visited the grocery store to shop for the Thanksgiving holiday.

Hearing those bells for the first time is always a real eyeopener - all in a very good way.

The sound makes me realize, especially given the trying economic and social times of the past few years, just how 'thankful' we should all be to be able to have the means to purchase holiday groceries when many others aren't able to. It also helps point out that the least any of us can do is lend a hand in helping the less fortunate, whether it's plucking a gift card off a giving tree, helping provide groceries through donations to local food pantries, or dropping in whatever we can when we have the opportunity presenting itself to help fill those meaningful red kettles.

Were you aware that just the spare change dropped in the kettles every holiday season accounts for about half of the funds received each campaign by the Salvation Army?

So when you are out and about the next several weeks and you see a red kettle campaigner happily ringing the bell for the Salvation Army, make it a point to give. Whatever you can spare, even if it's just pocket change, will go a long way in positively impacting a person or family in need.

On that note, the parishioners and staff at Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church deserve some well-earned praise for their unselfish effort in preparing their traditional Thanksgiving Day meal that that is a bright spot in the lives of hundreds who look forward to it annually. Not only do they serve up a wonderful home cooked meal in their fellowship hall, they also make sure that those home ridden have the opportunity to enjoy it, whether they are in need of a ride or home delivery service.