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Kettles keep the lights on at Salvation Army

LaGRANGE – The Salvation Army hopes that this Black Friday will be a little red with Salvation Army kettles popping up at shopping centers around the community.

The Salvation Army is gearing up for its biggest fundraiser of the year, the Salvation Army kettles. The annual donation drive is crucial to keeping the organization going and allowing it to provide assistance within the community.

“Even just keeping our lights on is a struggle,” said Captain Monica Nickum of the Salvation Army.  “You know we can help to get other people’s light’s on, but when it comes to keeping our own on it’s really a struggle. … We struggle to keep it afloat.”

So far, the LaGrange branch of the Salvation Army has only had four groups sign up to ring bells to collect funds for the kettles, but organizers are hopeful that more people will sign up after Thanksgiving.

“If we don’t have volunteers, we have to hire people,” said Guy Nickum, who helps organize the annual Kettle Run for the Salvation Army.  “… This is our biggest fundraiser of the year, and it helps us fund rent, utilities, church, (and) sending kids to camp.”

Guy Nickum commented that while paying bell ringers does provide jobs within the community, it makes it more difficult for the Salvation Army to raise the funds they need to keep programs going.

“We do the best with what we have and most of that is donations, but we struggle financially,” said Monica Nickum.  “We definitely need help financially.”

The Salvation Army receives help from other organizations throughout the year, but the donations received from the kettles are what allows the organization to continue its community outreach.

“That money (from the kettles) goes towards their social services and utilities,” said Patty Youngblood, president of the United Way of West Georgia, which partners with the Salvation Army on projects throughout the year. “… We just appreciate everyone who participates in these programs during the holidays.”

The Salvation Army provides food for local families in need using canned food from food drives like the ones recently held at Rosemont Elementary School and Troup High School, and the organization also provides clothing for those in need through its stores, but it struggles to find funds for programs like rent and utility assistance and emergency housing for those who have come upon hard times.

“We definitely appreciate the red kettles at Christmas because they make it possible throughout the year to do what we need to do,” said Monica Nickum.  “Of course United Way help us with money right now for rent, utilities.  They are our main provider for that.”

Organizers ask the community to remember that every little bit helps when it comes to donations, even if it is just a handful of change.

“I like to put in whatever change I have on my way out (of the store),” said Youngblood, of donating to the kettles.  “… You haven’t really hurt yourself and you have really helped someone else.”

The Salvation Army kettles will have people ringing bells at Walmart, Big Lots, Kroger and other locations throughout the holiday season.  Anyone who would like to volunteer is encouraged to call 706-845-0197.