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Salvation Army Kettles, Angel Tree Program In ‘Critical’ Need

<p>PHOTO BY BRIAN D. SANDERFORD</p><p>Shoppers at the Greenwood Wal-Mart donate to The Salvation Army by placing money in one of their kettles on Wednesday, Dec. 4, 2013.</p>Buy Photo

PHOTO BY BRIAN D. SANDERFORD

Shoppers at the Greenwood Wal-Mart donate to The Salvation Army by placing money in one of their kettles on Wednesday, Dec. 4, 2013.

<p>PHOTO BY BRIAN D. SANDERFORD</p><p>Shoppers at the Greenwood Wal-Mart donate to The Salvation Army by placing money in one of their kettles on Wednesday, Dec. 4, 2013.</p>Buy Photo

PHOTO BY BRIAN D. SANDERFORD

Shoppers at the Greenwood Wal-Mart donate to The Salvation Army by placing money in one of their kettles on Wednesday, Dec. 4, 2013.

With the Fort Smith Salvation Army Kettle and Angel Tree programs having to shut down for three days because of the ice and snow storm, the charity drive is in dire need of support.

Nearly a week shorter shopping season, a shortage in volunteer bell ringers and an increase of 1,000 children in the Angel Tree program add to the condition that local Salvation Army Capt. Russell Clay has deemed “critical.”

Clay estimated the Army Kettle donation shortfall at approximately $16,000 over the two first days of the storm, and with all volunteers calling in absent on Sunday the amount of donations not received could be about $24,000. An average of $8,000 a day comes in from 23 kettles at 28 locations in Sallisaw, Fort Smith, Alma, Greenwood, Van Buren and Waldron.

“We didn’t expect the snowstorm to be this bad,” Clay said. “I hope to get the kettles back up on Monday, but with a high of 31 degrees I know the bell ringers won’t be able to stay long.”

The local Salvation Army has about 200 active volunteers who share the duties of manning nearly 30 Army Kettles, local Salvation Army Volunteer Coordinator David Lawson said.

Christmas time is the charity’s biggest fundraising season, Clay adds. The lodging and warm-meal programs of the Salvation Army continue as the Army Kettle experiences a shortfall.

The local Angel Tree program, which offers a child a Christmas gift, saw an increase from 1,600 children to 2,600 children this year, Clay said. Children are registered in October.

Donors register for the donation at sign-up locations called Angel Trees in the three Fort Smith Walmarts — 2425 Zero St., 4900 Rogers Ave., and 2100 N. 62nd St. — as well as Central Mall, 5111 Rogers Ave.

The drop-off location for the toys is at the Angel Tree Joy Center at Cisterna Market, 9207 Highway 71 S., behind Taco Bell at Brooken Hill Drive and Burrough Road. The Angel Tree Joy Center is open 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday to Saturday.

“There are a lot more registered for toys this year,” Lawson said.

The Salvation Army is an evangelical part of the universal Christian church established in 1865. Nearly 30 million Americans receive assistance from the Salvation Army each year. At least 82 cents of every dollar spent is used to support those services in 5,000 communities nationwide, the charity states.

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