Reporter:By Todd Cline, Editor, Gwinnett Daily Post
Scott Zanardo has made it a Christmas tradition. Brad Varhol is starting to do the same. And though both enjoy ringing in the season by helping the Salvation Army, they admit it takes a while to get the sound of bells out of their heads after a shift manning the red kettles.
“You kind of still hear them for a while after you get home,” said Zanardo, a Lawrenceville resident who volunteers through the Rotary Club of Gwinnett.
That ringing sound, however, is also music to the ears of folks like Zanardo and Varhol, who have made a Salvation Army tradition one of their own. This is the 119th season of the Salvation Army’s red kettles campaign, one that has become synonmous with Christmas.
For Zanardo, this is his 15th year of ringing for the Salvation Army. The owner of Zanardo Architects, he got involved through Rotary and has made his participation a family tradition.
“I look forward to it,” he said. “I get my kids involved whenever they’re available. You get to wish everyone a merry Christmas, and it’s neat to see people give their kids the money to put in the kettle. It’s a great way to teach them about giving.”
This past weekend, Zanardo was paired with Varhol, a fellow member of the Rotary Club of Gwinnett. Varhol is a relative newbie, participating for just the second year. But the Snellville resident was quickly, and warmly, welcomed to the club last year.
“It was so cold we had people coming out of Wal-Mart bringing us coffee,” he said. “And some even brought us hamburgers. It just shows you that everyone has a giving spirit.”
The Red Kettle Campaign, which will run through Christmas Eve, is trying to raise $2.1 million from its kettles in the metro area. But kettles aren’t the only way you can donate. In a sign of the times, the Salvation Army is taking online donations at www.salvationarmy-georgia.org, and 50 locations will be equipped with wireless credit card machines, allowing people to swipe a credit card instead of plunking down change.
Zanardo and Varhol went after donations the old-fashioned way, and were again impressed by the charitable nature of those who donate. “It just brings out the best in people,” Zanardo said. “I know the economy isn’t good, but people seem to be more giving this year than years past.” Varhol, who owns Eon Products Inc., which sells equipment for environmental testing, said an added bonus of participating is getting to know his fellow club members better. Last year he had been in Rotary for only a few months before the bell-ringing campaign began, and the hours he spent ringing provided camaraderie as well.
The Dalton Corps Community Center which personifies the Salvation Army's slogan of "soap, soup, and salvation" houses a food pantry that the community has a vested interest in since 1949; an interest in making sure its citizens are fed and taken care of. The 8,000 square foot pantry, managed by Patricia Thompson, serves needy residents who live in Murray and Whitfield counties. The service is rewarding because a collective effort of the advisory board, local churches and the media help keep the pantry well-stocked. In addition to these groups, corporations like Wal-Mart and local grocery stores make significant donations of food to feed the hungry. Food drives held annually by the Boy Scouts in February and the U.S. Postal Service in May create a special awareness and way for the entire community to come together for a common cause. The need is great every year and as proof of the rising demands, Dalton's food pantry provided food boxes to 2,250 families in 2009. One box of food will serve a family for an entire week. Mrs. Thompson stressed that in these difficult economic times, "We need the continued support of the community to be able to meet the needs of the hungry." To make a contribution of food or money, call 706-278-3966
LaGrange's Rosemont Elementary School Shows Gratitude by Giving
The annual food drive and Thanksgiving program held by LaGrange's Rosemont Elementary School students was a true showing of gratitude. On November 19, all of the students, teachers and school administrators gathered in the auditorium to present the LaGrange Salvation Army with their collection of donated food items to feed those less fortunate than themselves. Lieutenants Chris and Billie Powell received the food with enthusiasm and in return, presented the school with a certificate of appreciation for their compassion and efforts in helping fulfill the Army's mission of meeting human need in His name without discrimination.
"Mrs. Daniel's class is thankful for the ones who love them, God and Mrs. Daniel." "Ms. Vowell's class is thankful for God, their teachers, their school and being alive." "Mrs. Blocher's class is thankful that they are all healthy." "Mrs. Garner's class is thankful for family and friends." "Mrs. Taylor's kindergarten class is thankful to live in a free country." "Mrs. Doughman's class is thankful for our military, freedom, and forgiveness."
As part of a special presentation, student representatives from each class expressed what they were thankful for this holiday season.
Autumn, 1621, Pilgrims, Plymouth Rock, Indians, and food are all historical keys to the Thanksgiving holiday we learned about as children. Many of us eagerly look for signs and symbols of this specially commemorated day each year. However, unlike our anticipation toward Christmas' gift giving and receiving, we give thanks for all that we have already received; both tangible and intangible. Although we give thanks daily, we set aside this time to collectively reflect on the blessings and the bounty we experience as a nation and as individuals.
Our celebration which has traditionally been staged around the dinner table with turkeys, pumpkins and other fall harvest prompt us to remember those less fortunate. Through the generosity of many Georgians, Salvation Army Corps and Service Centers across the State make Thanksgiving a day of plenty and a sign of hope for the future for those who struggle to provide for basic daily necessities.
The following are highlights of "Doing The Most Good" during Thanksgiving 2010:
VALDOSTA Corps Community Center will continue a 10-year tradition of teaming up with the 100 Black Men of Valdosta, Inc., a group which focuses on developing underprivileged youth, to serve Thanksgiving dinner on November 20, 2010 to those who are seeking good food and good fellowship. On average more than 1,500 people are served annually.
ST. MARYS' Service Center will distribute Thanksgiving food baskets containing turkey, stuffing, green beans, cranberry sauce, corn, sweet peas, rolls, canned pumpkin and pie shell mix to families in need. St. Marys is proud to impact the lives of nearly 790 people each year that provides gifts of food. This year's distribution will take place on November 23.
ATLANTA'S Red Shield Shelter and Lawrenceville Corps will serve Thanksgiving Day Meals for the Homeless at their respective locations. Each year, these locations bring belonging and acceptance into the lives of approximately 900 homeless men, women and children. Volunteers are encouraged to participate.
ALBANY Corps Community Center will host a Thanksgiving Community Meal on November 23 at 304 W. 2nd Avenue. Annually, the Army serves a meal of turkey with all the trimmings and dessert between 100 and 150 people. The event welcomes anyone who comes and is in need.
AMERICUS Service Center makes sure senior citizens who are on a fixed income and who may have difficulty making ends meet receive Thanksgiving food bags with all the ingredients for a memorable holiday dinner. Seniors who participated in a Senior Citizens' Fair will receive their food bags on November 23.
MACON Corps Community Center in partnership with Macedonia Church has sponsored a canned and non-perishable food drive. All collected donations will help The Salvation Army serve nearly 300 families this year with Thanksgiving boxes. Volunteers are encouraged to help prepare boxes on November 19 at the corps located on Broad Street between 6:00pm - 8:00pm. Food items needed for this year's outreach are: beans, macaroni, dry milk, flower, mashed potato mix, cake mix, rice, canned sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce, soup, and canned vegetables
By: CMT News Rascal Flatts presented the Salvation Army's Angel Giving Tree program with a $100,000 check on behalf of their tour sponsor, J.C. Penney, during an event at the department store's location in New York City on Wednesday night (Nov. 17). The group also announced the Online Angel Giving Tree Program, which provides clothing, gifts and other desired items to kids and seniors in the U.S. In addition, the band hosted a toy drive and gave away their new album, Nothing Like This, to the first 100 fans who donated a new, unwrapped toy. The retail chain will donate one dollar to the Salvation Army for every copy of Nothing Like This sold in their stores through March 15.
ALBANY, GA -- Marine First Sgt. James Watson and Doug McClure of the Salvation Army were out at the Albany mall Friday night to kick off the Toys for Tots and Red Kettle drive. Center court was jam-packed with kids and their families. They were treated to entertainment provided by the Albany Marine Corps Band and were given the opportunity to donate a new unwrapped gift to Toys for Tots. Santa and Mrs. Claus made their grand entrance at the mall. Santa helped get things started by donating to the Red Kettle drive as well as Toys for Tots. Santa even worked a little of his magic and treated kids to a light snowfall.
GAINESVILLE - The Salvation Army in Gainesville/Hall County launched its 'Red Kettle' donation campaign Friday morning at Lakeshore Mall and the needy list is growing because of the continuing recession.
Lieutenant Matt Cunningham said 25 kettles manned by volunteer bell ringers are ready to accept donations for people who need help all year around and especially during the holiday season.
"Just last month out of over 300 cases only 30 of them were people we've seen before," Cunningham said. "We're seeing massive numbers of first time help coming through our doors. They are people who had wonderful, solid jobs, cars and homes and with downsizing and the economy, they've lost it all and don't know where to turn. We like to be that shield of hope and continue doing the most good by people in our community."
Lieutenant Cunningham said Salvation Army donors can help 1600 'angels' on the 'Angel Tree', with each card on the tree representing an area child in need.
"That's a child whose parents came to us and signed them up," Cunningham said. "Each of those cards has their name, if it's a boy or girl, clothes sizes and a wish toy that they would like to have for Christmas. We have 1600 kids in our community who we need a Christmas for."
The Lieutenant said the trees are at the Mall, Longstreet Clinic, and a few area restaurants and donors simply take a card and by doing so adopt their 'angel' for Christmas.
Mary Faulkner is one of the volunteer bell ringers at the Mall and she and other co-workers from the Community Development Department will man the kettle station during the season.
"I feel great helping other people," she said. "That's what it's all about."
Lieutenant Cunningham said anyone wanting to volunteer as a Salvation Army bell ringer may call 770-534-7589.
Santa helped get things started by donating to the Red Kettle drive as well as Toys for Tots