Salvation Army in tune with Christmas

Recorder/Geoff Bluh
Sonny Crawford ,of Charlemont, approaches the kettle to make  a donation as Tristan Cobb, of Greenfield , formerly of Boston, volunteers for his second year with the Salvation Army Kettle Drive. Green Fields Market was one of several locations for the Kettle Drive in town. Volunteer’s like Tristan brave the elements as they ring the bell and greet passers by who pause to donate.

Recorder/Geoff Bluh Sonny Crawford ,of Charlemont, approaches the kettle to make a donation as Tristan Cobb, of Greenfield , formerly of Boston, volunteers for his second year with the Salvation Army Kettle Drive. Green Fields Market was one of several locations for the Kettle Drive in town. Volunteer’s like Tristan brave the elements as they ring the bell and greet passers by who pause to donate.

GREENFIELD — With less than a month to go before Christmas, officials at Greenfield’s Salvation Army are preparing food baskets and toy donations to give to those in need.

Last Christmas, the Salvation Army gave about 200 families a food basket — complete with a Christmas turkey or ham.

And they gave out about 3,600 toys and 2,600 clothing items — gathered through personal donations, an “angel tree” drive in stores and through purchased items.

Capt. Dan Brunelle would like to match those totals again this year.

“There’s a wonderful spirit in this community,” he said. “I’m grateful that this year, even though there are very difficult economic times right now, people are still helping those who are less fortunate.”

Low-income families who want to receive free toys for their children can visit the Salvation Army today. Employees ask that individuals bring identification for them and their children, and proof of low income.

In the week before Christmas, those families will be able to receive two free toys and “stocking stuffers” for their children, he said.

For information on how to sign up to receive toys or food baskets, contact the Salvation Army at 413-773-3154.

Ways to donate

There are multiple ways to donate to the Salvation Army’s Christmas efforts, Brunelle said.

People can pick up an “angel tree” tag at any of the Greenfield Co-operative Bank branches or at People’s United Bank. The tags represent real children in the community and ask for toy or clothing item donations.

Items can also be dropped off at a Salvation Army box at Walgreens, he said.

Sometimes, said Brunelle, people will call the Salvation Army asking to “adopt a family.” In such a donation, a person would buy items for all children in the family, he said.

And others volunteer their time packing bags, cleaning the Salvation Army building or cooking and serving the annual free Christmas day dinner, he said.

3 weeks left in kettle fundraiser

People can also give financial donations to Salvation Army’s annual kettle fundraiser.

Volunteers can be seen at eight locations throughout town on every day but Sundays — ringing bells and holding red kettles to collect money for the Greenfield Salvation Army worship and community station.

The money from the fundraiser all stays in town, usually making up between 15 and 20 percent of the local Salvation Army’s $250,000 budget, said Brunelle.

Through Thursday, which was the 17th day of a 38-day campaign, the kettle drive had collected about $18,000, said Brunelle.

But with daily totals 10 percent lower than last year, the drive has so far brought in about 40 percent of the Salvation Army’s $44,800 goal — which was the amount of money collected last year, he said.

Brunelle said that volunteers have not noticed a decrease in donors, but he surmised that due to difficult financial times “some people that gave $2 (last year) can only give $1.”

Still, Brunelle said the Salvation Army is thankful for anyone who can donate, no matter what the contribution. He added that he especially likes when a parent gives a child money to put into the kettle and explains why they are making a donation.

“The bell ringing is really a great way for the parents to teach their children about charity,” he said.

Volunteers will work Monday through Saturday until Christmas Eve. They are stationed at locations along Main Street from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

And they are at Foster’s, Stop & Shop and Walgreens for an extended time from 9 a.m. to about 7 p.m.

You can reach Chris Shores at:
cshores@recorder.com
or 413-772-0261, ext. 264

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