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making the holidays happy

Salvation Army programs help the community during the holidays and beyond

Before entering Hy-Vee to do some grocery shopping, Lynn Davis of Sycamore stopped to do a good deed: she donated to The Salvation Army’s Red Kettle Campaign.

“Whenever I see a bell-ringer, I make a donation,” Davis said. “It’s all in the spirit of giving and helping others during the holidays.”

Major Angie Pennington of The Salvation Army of DeKalb County said November and December is “our busiest time of year and the time when the need for fundraising is the greatest.”

“It’s important to keep the true meaning of Christmas through it all,” she said. “Every client is a real person, not a face or a number. The people of the community are most important, and that’s what The Salvation Army and the holidays are all about.”

From Thanksgiving turkeys to Christmas toys and the Red Kettle Campaign, The Salvation Army of DeKalb County, 830 Grove St. in DeKalb, has many ways to volunteer and help the needy in the community this holiday season.

Let’s Talk Turkey fundraiser

During last week’s WLBK Let’s Talk Turkey fundraiser for The Salvation Army, 289 frozen turkeys were donated, along with $9,314 to buy more turkeys – a total of about 1,220 turkeys.

The turkeys, along with boxes of nonperishable items, such as instant stuffing and mashed potatoes and cans of vegetables, were distributed to more than 700 DeKalb County families before Thanksgiving.

DeKalb Firefighters Local 1236 donated $1,000 worth of turkeys, $500 and a $100 Walmart gift card to the fundraising event.

“The donation was driven by the union, because we care about the community when we’re on duty, but also when we’re off duty,” Fire Chief Jeff McMaster said. “There is a huge need, and we wanted to help make the community better. The holidays are a time to be thankful for what you have, but also a time to reach out and help others.”

Other large donations included the Greek Orthodox Ladies Philoptochos Society of St. George Greek Orthodox Church and First State Bank, each donating 12 turkeys, the DeKalb Lions Club, which donated 14 turkeys, and Jewel-Osco, which donated 18 turkeys. The Irving family of DeKalb donated $5,000 to the fundraiser.

“The community is very generous, especially during the holidays,” said Gary Billings, food pantry coordinator for The Salvation Army. “Everyone gives and helps out, thinking of people that are less fortunate. Their donations of turkeys and money helps families have a nice Thanksgiving dinner.”

Red Kettle Campaign

The Salvation Army’s Red Kettle Campaign started Nov. 8 and will run through Christmas Eve, Dec. 24. This year’s campaign goal is $95,000.

Red kettles and bell-ringers will be located at 15 locations in DeKalb County, including Walmart, Schnucks, Jewel-Osco and Walgreens in DeKalb and Blain’s Farm & Fleet, Hy-Vee, Jewel-Osco and Walgreens in Sycamore.

New this year, donations can be made to the campaign via Apple Pay or Google Pay. Stickers with microchips are placed on every kettle, so donors can use their cell phones to make a donation by tapping their phone against the tag or by scanning a QCR code.

Donors will be directed to a custom form where they can make a gift of their choice. Donations will go to The Salvation Army corps community center closest to the donor’s billing zip code.

“Many people, including myself, don’t have cash on hand,” Pennington said. “Paying with an app is just one way to make donating accessible for everyone.”

LaTonya Wilson of DeKalb said that even though she bell rings for the Red Kettle Campaign nearly every day, she hasn’t had anyone choose to donate using their app yet.

“I don’t think too many people know that it’s an option yet,” she said. “People can also donate online. People are real generous around the holidays.”

Christmas Toy Shop and Angel Giving Tree

The Salvation Army also partners with Toys for Tots to offer the Christmas Toy Shop, giving Christmas toys to 600 families, or 2,000 children, in DeKalb County. This year, the Christmas Toy Shop will be Dec. 18 and Dec. 19 at The Salvation Army. During the event, parents can walk down aisles and choose toys in a store-like setting for their children’s Christmas presents.

“Parents can pick and choose what gifts their children want, allowing them the dignity of choice,” Pennington said. “It’s a way to make sure every child has a present they want to open under the tree on Christmas Day.”

Parents can apply for the Christmas Toy Shop by stopping by The Salvation Army with a photo ID, proof of their current address and documents that show their children’s birthdates. Applications are due Dec. 13.

The Salvation Army also offers an Angel Giving Tree, pairing donors with a child in need. Donors can give to the Angel Giving Tree online at DeKalb@TheAngelGivingTree.org, purchase items online through Amazon, or call The Salvation Army at 815-756-4308 for more information.

Helping the community year-round

In addition to its charity throughout the holiday season, The Salvation Army of DeKalb County helps residents year-round. The nonprofit organization helps with disaster relief, job training, treatment and rehabilitation for people battling substance abuse and emergency assistance to help with mortgage or rent, utility bills, clothing, medication bills and other needs to keep families in their homes.

The Salvation Army also hosts a food pantry from 9 a.m. to noon Mondays through Thursdays and 5 to 6:45 p.m. Thursdays only.

The newest program is Pathway of Hope, which pairs community mentors with people in need to develop long-term goal-orientated plans. And to help the youth in the community, the Salvation Army offers music, instrument and vocal lessons throughout the week, an after-school program for students and a youth night on Thursdays with character-building opportunities.

“About 60% of our annual budget comes from Christmas bell-ringing, which allows us to help the community throughout the year, not just during the holidays,” Pennington said. “Families are struggling every day, and The Salvation Army is here to help.”

For more information about The Salvation Army of DeKalb County, visit centralusa.salvationarmy.org/dekalb, call 815-756-4308 or email angie.pennington@usc.salvationarmy.org.

To volunteer as a bell-ringer, visit www.registertoring.com.

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