Salvation Army gears up for holiday food baskets

Linda Saholt

News Review Correspondent

’Tis the season to start thinking even more than usual about others less fortunate. According to Envoy Donna Griffin at the Salvation Army, the organization has several holiday programs under way to help those in our community who are struggling.

First off, the group needs volunteer bell ringers, to staff the red donation kettles that will be going into place starting Nov. 17 at major shopping areas around town. Volunteers will work in two-hour shifts.

“Service clubs, kids’ clubs, schools, businesses — they can challenge each other to take a day and compete with each other to see who can raise the most donations. Kiwanis and Rotary do that every year. That makes the fundraising more successful,” said Griffin.

“All the money raised here goes back into the community.”

She said people enjoy seeing youngsters out there, ringing the bell. “This is an awesome way to introduce kids to giving back to the community. Children must be supervised, so the adults need to come out, too. It’s really special when music groups, choirs, and people playing an instrument come out. People really love that.”

Another volunteer opportunity for those who would like to get involved is for the Salvation Army Food Pantry. Volunteers are needed to help from 9-11 a.m. Mondays through Thursdays. Come in and pick out a day you can help.

And, of course, there is the annual Holiday Food Basket program. Last year the Salvation Army gave out no less than 1,600 holiday baskets in our community between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

“I estimate we helped approximately 4,700 people in the Indian Wells Valley, including Trona and the Rand District,” said Griffin.

“We expect the numbers to go up, with the current economic condition. The number of people requiring services has gone up, so we’re expecting the number of applications for food baskets to go up. We’re always hoping things will get better for them.”

She emphasized this is not an entitlement program. “This is for those who have situations or unexpected circumstances that prevent them from having a holiday meal,” said Griffin.

Signups are in process now at the Salvation Army Building, 151 N. Downs St., between 1-3 p.m. Monday through Thursday. The deadline for applications for Thanksgiving baskets is Nov. 12. The deadline for Christmas baskets is Dec. 14.

“You don’t need to sign up twice,” said Griffin. “If you sign up for Thanksgiving, you’re automatically signed up for Christmas as well.”

For those who would like to donate, the Salvation Army needs donations of food items such as stuffing mix, gravy mix, canned yams, canned cranberry sauce, canned vegetables, brown sugar, potatoes, butter, marshmallows and so on.

Other items that are appreciated are nuts, canned milk, canned pumpkin, olives, powdered milk, cake mixes, cookies and rolls.

But most of all — the Salvation Army need turkeys. The organization has freezers to hold frozen turkeys. “Last year, we helped 650 families at Thanksgiving. We had 650 applications. Four hundred were ‘adopted’ and we did the other 250.

“Local stores won’t sell us turkeys in quantity, so we encouraged people to take advantage of the Buy One — Get One Free offers and donate the extra one to us. We encourage churches to have ‘Turkey Drives’ and also collect canned goods and staples. And, of course, we always need donations in money,” said Griffin.

Donors are welcome to bring in donated items, or “adopt” families. A basket costs $55, to feed a family. A donor may purchase the basket and have Salvation Army personnel deliver it, or the donor can deliver it to the family in person.

Money donated to the Salvation Army should be marked “for Holiday Food Baskets.” Some donors choose to adopt the same family for both Thanksgiving and Christmas and may choose to give the family Christmas gifts, as well. It’s all up to you, the donor.

“Charles and I both would like to thank everyone in advance for the support and prayers given 24/7 throughout the year,” said Griffin.

Story First Published: 2012-10-31