The Johnson City Salvation Army hosted a regional kickoff of this year’s Angel Tree shopping and Red Kettle fundraising season Thursday night at The Mall at Johnson City.
Johnson City corps commanders Lts. Antwan and Bethany Yocum encouraged the community to celebrate the holidays by shopping for one or more of the 1,572 local children whose families live in poverty, and to add their contributions to year-round Salvation Army services for the homeless and poor at the familiar, bell-ringing red kettle stations.
To draw a crowd to the kickoff festivities, the Tri-Cities Salvation Army Band and Science Hill High School Orchestra string ensemble performed a medley of traditional Christmas favorites. The Milligan College cheerleaders and Buffalo mascot pumped up spirits, and local Tennessee pageant title holders wore their sashes and crowns to add some royal sparkle to the evening.
Atwann Yocum told the crowd what it was all about was the Salvation Army once again “striving to provide for thousands of children at Christmas in partnership” with the community. “No child should be without at Christmas,” he said.
Bethany Yocum explained how shoppers can provide “a wonderful Christmas for a child in as little as a half-an-hour.
How it’s done:
• Select a paper tag bearing a child’s first name, age, gender, clothing sizes and Christmas gift wish from an Angel Tree at the mall or a local Walmart store.
• Spend about 30 minutes shopping for that child and bring their gifts and tag straight back to the Angel Tree.
What an Angel Tree bag should look like:
The Salvation Army would like to provide each child with a winter coat, shoes, a least one outfit of clothing and two or three toys or gift items.
All gifts may must be turned in at the Angel Tree at the mall or at he Salvation Army offices at 204 W. Walnut St. by 5 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 6.
Stressing the importance of Red Kettle collections, Antwann Yocum said the 6-to-7 week bell ringing campaign could generate up to 35 percent of the local corps annual operating budget. For the Johnson City corps, this year’s goal is $160,000.
The next three Fridays will be especially helpful days to contribute, with three area business, Mitch Cox Companies, Blackburn Childers & Steagall and Ballad Health, sponsoring Red Kettle Match Days in which they will match up to $10,000 in Kettle donations collected on Friday, Nov. 30, and Dec. 6 and 13.
For more information about the Angel Tree project or the Red Kettle drive, contact the Salvation Army at 423-926-2101.