TYLER, Texas (KLTV) - The Salvation Army kicked off its Kettle and Angel Tree program Friday morning, and the organization needs donations and volunteers more than ever.
While Friday morning’s kick-off was not as festive as years past, the Christmas Kick-Off traditionally launches The Salvation Army’s Kettle and Angel Tree season.
The Salvation Army has struggled with donations throughout the year due to COVID-19. However, the Kettle Program is the charitable organization’s largest fundraiser of the year.
“This Christmastime is more important than ever this year,” said Cpt. Jeremy Walker of The Salvation Army in Tyler. “Our goal this year is $270,000 and I think we can get there with this community’s help.”
Donations made to red kettle sites go toward Christmas efforts first, Walker explained, but it also helps toward programs throughout the rest of the year.
“Every dollar, every penny, an average of 82 cents of that gets put right back into the services. We only function on about 18 cents ” he said. “So praise God for good staff and good volunteers. We put as much as we can to help people get back on their feet."
Red kettles will begin popping up around Tyler at Broadway Square Mall, Hobby Lobby, Mardel Christian Bookstore, and Chick-fil-A locations. On Nov. 21, volunteers will be needed at Walmart, Brookshire’s, and Walgreen’s locations.
For more information about volunteering at a red kettle site, please visit The Salvation Army’s Register to Ring page.
Despite the resurgence of COVID-19 in many areas of East Texas, The Salvation Army will continue to host an Angel Tree at Broadway Square Mall, where families can “adopt” an angel and shop for their Christmas wish list.
The Salvation Army is also partnering with Walmart to host Angel Trees at various store locations. Anyone interested in donating can also do so by visiting Walmart’s digital Angel Tree site.
“They’re kind of just gifts that we can use in case our Angels aren’t filled, or if someone just isn’t picked off a tree,” said Cpt. Michelle Walker of The Salvation Army in Tyler. “We’re also figuring out a way to get actual Angel Trees online.”
There are around 1,800 Angels -- children and seniors -- who are in need this holiday season.
Volunteers will also have the opportunity to ring bells with the iconic red kettle at dozens of locations around Smith County.
Saturday, Dec. 12 is the last day of the Angel Tree program. New, unwrapped gifts can be dropped at Angel Tree locations or at The Salvation Army office location in downtown Tyler.
Gifts will be distributed on Friday, Dec. 18.