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Salvation Army chimes into holiday season

November 23, 2009|By HEATHER KEELS

HALFWAY -- The cling-cling-cling-cling of Salvation Army bells heralded the start of the holiday season at Valley Mall on Monday as the organization kicked off its annual Salvation Army kettle drive.

The Salvation Army also marked the start of the holiday fundraising campaign with a noon ceremony in the mall food court that included music by The Salvation Army Band and remarks by Salvation Army leaders and local elected officials.

The local Salvation Army's goal is to raise $90,000 this year in donations dropped in its kettles outside 17 area retail sites, said Donald Talbert, chairman of the Hagerstown Corps Advisory Board.

The organization also hopes to raise an additional $150,000 in mailed donations for a total of $240,000 this year. That would be up more than $20,000 from last year, when it raised a total of $217,511.85, Talbert said.

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"We have all the confidence, with the Lord's help, that the community will respond and that we can make these goals even in these economic times," he said.

Money donated to The Salvation Army stays in the local community and funds programs including a daily meal program, food bank, and a transitional housing program for women and families, Talbert said.

In addition, The Salvation Army collects toy and food donations that it provides to needy families at Christmas. This year, more than 1,100 families in Washington County have registered to receive the food and toys, Maj. Robert Lyle said.

"We're very grateful because we live in a very economically dire time right now, and we know that what we raise this Christmas will go a long ways in helping the needs that we find in our community," Lyle said.

Washington County Commissioners President John F. Barr thanked Lyle and his wife for their hard work each year and encouraged shoppers to support the kettle campaign.

"Probably thousands of families in our community here over the Christmas holidays will be touched by those that give and give repeatedly thrugh this Christmas appeal," Barr said.

Hagerstown Councilman William M. Breichner, who is president of the Kiwanis Club of Hagerstown, presented Lyle with a $1,000 donation from Kiwanis to kick off the campaign, and Valley Mall marketing director Michelle Wills presented a $500 donation from the mall.

Salvation Army officials thanked all of their donors, bell-ringing volunteers and the Valley Mall for their support.

When one kettle location, the Michaels arts and crafts store on Cole Road, asked The Salvation Army not to solicit there this year, Valley Mall stepped up to offer a new location outside its movie theater so The Salvation Army would still have 17 kettle locations, Talbert said.

Bell-ringing started Monday at 15 of the 17 sites, he said.

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