The Times Herald (Norristown, PA) - - WEATHER -

that pro­vide op­por­tu­ni­ties for lo­cal res­i­dents.

County Com­mis­sion­ers Va­lerie A. Arkoosh and Ken­neth Lawrence Jr. smiled brightly as they were the first to drop per­sonal mone­tary do­na­tions into red ket­tles sit­u­ated on the court­house steps dur­ing the kick-off cel­e­bra­tion. The red ket­tles will be placed in prom­i­nent re­tail lo­ca­tions through­out the Nor­ris­town area dur­ing the hol­i­day sea­son.

Arkoosh praised The Sal­va­tion Army’s part­ner­ship with the county, say­ing the or­ga­ni­za­tion per­forms “crit­i­cally im­por­tant things,” such as oper­at­ing a food pantry.

“They are a real linch­pin in our Code Blue pro­gram. They open up their gym­na­sium when the weather is too cold for peo­ple to safely sleep out­doors. It would be dif­fi­cult for us to house ev­ery­one that needs hous­ing dur­ing a Code Blue with­out them,” Arkoosh ex­plained. “We’re very grate­ful.”

“We are en­ter­ing a sea­son of Thanks­giv­ing now, but there’s a lot of need in our com­mu­nity and some­times peo­ple for­get the needs that are in Mont­gomery County but The Sal­va­tion Army does not,” Lawrence added.

The or­ga­ni­za­tion serves thou­sands of peo­ple lo­cally each year by pro­vid­ing tran­si­tional hous­ing for fam­i­lies, Code Blue emer­gency over­flow shel­ter ser­vices, mu­sic ed­u­ca­tion and in­struc­tion for youth, sum­mer camp, a se­nior sup­port pro­gram, hol­i­day meals and gift dis­tri­bu­tion to fam­i­lies in need, com­mu­nity meals, an emer­gency food pantry, and wor­ship ser­vices, of­fi­cials said.

The Sal­va­tion Army Brass En­sem­ble pro­vided a se­lec­tion of hol­i­day mu­sic for those who at­tended the cel­e­bra­tion. Cap­tain Ja­son Knaggs, di­vi­sional youth sec­re­tary of The Sal­va­tion Army of Eastern Penn­syl­va­nia and Delaware, pro­vided the crowd with a his­tory of the red ket­tle tra­di­tion that be­gan in 1891 in Cal­i­for­nia.

“The idea trav­eled east … and since 1897 there have been Sal­va­tion Army ket­tles on the lo­cal streets all over the coun­try. The red ket­tle is a hol­i­day sym­bol,” Knaggs said. “But never has the need for sup­port of our ket­tles been more im­por­tant than now. With the cur­rent eco­nomic sit­u­a­tion there are hun­dreds of men and women, moms and dads, who are turn­ing to The Sal­va­tion Army re­quest­ing food and cloth­ing and toys for their kids here at Christ­mas time and so much more.

“Although we know that need has no sea­son, the gen­eros­ity of the pub­lic dur­ing the red ket­tle cam­paign en­sures the ser­vices pro­vided through­out the en­tire year,” Knaggs added, urg­ing res­i­dents who can to “dig deep into their hearts” this sea­son to pro­vide help for their neigh­bors in need.

Of­fi­cials said those who don’t come across a tra­di­tional red ket­tle this hol­i­day sea­son can se­curely make credit card do­na­tions by vis­it­ing www.Sal­va­tionArmyNor­ris­ – or by us­ing mo­bile phone, text ORKNor­ris to 71777. Do­na­tions by check may be mailed to the or­ga­ni­za­tion at 533 Swede Street, Nor­ris­town, PA, 19401.

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