Salvation Army kicks off Red Kettle drive today

PUNXSUTAWNEY — If you think Black Friday is a sure sign that Christmas is coming, here’s another one: The Punxsy Salvation Army is holding its Red Kettle kickoff event today at County Market.

The biggest fund-raiser of the year for the corps is already down $3,000 from this time last year, said Captain Keith Jache, co-corps commander in Punxsy.

He said the kickoff will be held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. today through Saturday, and is another way to let the community know that the kettles are in full swing.

Corps members will serve chili, chicken noodle soup, hot dogs, hot chocolate, coffee, pie and hard tack, just to name a few items, Jache said. The food will be served from the corps’ new canteen truck placed into service this year.

Jache said besides County Market, there are five other locations where the kettles are located: Wal-Mart, Peebles, Comet Supermarket, Dollar Tree and Dollar General.

The goal for this year’s kettle drive is $50,000; last year, the corps came close, raising $44,000.

“People are needing more help than ever, and we need to make up the $3,000 that we are already behind,” Jache said.

The canteen truck is a new addition to the Punxsy Corps: A mobile feeding unit for service at scenes of emergencies, such as fires, Jache said.

“Our job is to make sure that the firefighters and other first responders are well fed, since the fire companies can be at the scene of an emergency for a long period of time in some cases,” he said. “The last thing we need is a firefighter becoming ill at the scene because they are dehydrated or from the cold in the winter months.”

Jache said with Christmas on its way, the corps is busy signing up people for food baskets and toys for those who are less fortunate.

The Punxsy Corps is still accepting applications for Christmas food baskets and toys for kids. Anyone who would like to apply may do so from 9 a.m. to noon and 1 to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday at the corps headquarters on West Mahoning Street.

Jache said the corps’ after-school program is continuing, and it’s never too late to sign a child up.

The program averages 30 to 35 students who receive help with homework, eat dinner and participate in other activities such as its singing ministry, Jache said, adding that the “Angel Tree” tags are available at several locations throughout Punxsy.

If you want to participate in the Angel Tree program, go to either Wal-Mart, the main sponsor; Peebles; S&T Banks; Marion Center Bank; Indiana First Bank; or Community First Bank, Jache said.

Those who want to participate may purchase a gift for a child that is listed on the tag along with their gender and age.