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.SalvationArmyNorristown.org – 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.