Annual Red Kettle project kicks off
The Tulsa-area Salvation Army sets $700,000 goal
Samuel Folks put his hand out Friday to stop a full grocery cart from rolling away.
A woman had stopped with her groceries. Folks was ringing a bell, and she dropped into his red kettle some spare cash. Folks snagged her cart as it rolled away. He did this as he greeted others walking in and leaving Reasor's on Brookside.
“Every year, people tell me how it (the Salvation Army) has helped them,” Folks said. “How it's helped their family have a regular Christmas, how it's gotten toys for the kids.”
Folks was ringing a bell for the start of the Salvation Army's Red Kettle Campaign. It's his 10th year to ring for the organization. Or is it the ninth? Folks said Friday he was not certain whether he started in 2008 or 2009, just that he enjoys doing it.
This year, the Tulsaarea Salvation Army set a $700,000 goal to fund its year-round efforts, Area Commander Maj. Mark Howell said. The funds raised during this year's holiday campaign will go to help 5,700 children and 2,600 families and senior citizens. The local Salvation Army serves 33,000 people annually, Harwell said.
“It wouldn't feel like Christmas without the ringing bells,” Harwell said.
Jeff Reasor, CEO of the grocery chain, immediately made a matching donation of up to $5,000 for any cash donated Friday. Another business, Tulsa Gold & Silver, donated $25,000 on Friday. Reasor said some people who benefit from the Salvation Army's charity are people “just looking for a meal.”
The Salvation Army Red Kettle Campaign has been an American tradition since 1891. The bell ringing began Friday and will persist through Christmas Eve. The money goes toward a variety of local services offered by The Salvation Army, including the food baskets for those in need around Christmas.
Harwell, during the kickoff event, introduced a small crowd to the Salvation Army's new mascot: a larger-than-life red shield featuring a big smile and four-fingered hands covered with white gloves.
The mascot has not yet been named, though. Area residents may vote for the new mascot's name on the local chapter's Facebook page, facebook.com/ salarmytulsa. Those who wish to volunteer may visit the local chapter's website at salarmytulsa. org for details.