Ringing in the holidays

WELLSBURG – The Brooke County Salvation Army’s red kettle campaign has helped families in need to celebrate Thanksgiving and Christmas since 1891, and this season the need is greater than ever.

Majs. David and Sue Dewan were on hand in Wellsburg’s town square Friday to officially begin this year’s collection efforts. Salvation Army board members Manuel Markos, Audrey Bryant and Matz Malone also were present.

The ceremony began with Maj. Sue Dewan acknowledging Mayor Sue Simonetti and members of the board in appreciation of their work.

“This is a wonderful community, and our people here really dig in and help,” Sue Dewan said.

After a prayer, Simonetti placed the first dollar into the red kettle, marking the start of the campaign.

Money collected by the familiar bell-ringers is spent on food baskets that include all the fixings of a typical holiday dinner for families who would otherwise go without.

According to Salvation Army Secretary Rebecca Bell, funding also goes toward Angel Trees. Parents who cannot afford Christmas gifts can sign up with a Christmas wish on an Angel Tree for a child, and the Army will do its best to provide gifts for as many children as possible.

“So many little children would have nothing on Christmas without this program,” Malone said. “It’s really heartening to see how grateful they are. When they tell us ‘thank you’ they truly mean it.”

About 20 local churches and businesses participate in the effort. Last year the Salvation Army served nearly 300 area children with Angel Trees and more than 130 area families with food baskets. Due to the state of the economy, they expect more applications this year.

“We need all the hands we can possibly get,” Malone said. “It’s a labor of love for everyone involved.”

Interested volunteers can visit the Salvation Army’s website at www.salvationarmyusa.org/.