By MIRANDA BAINES
THE DAILY SOUTHERNER
The Salvation Army’s kettle campaign is off to a good start.
“Last year, before Thanksgiving, we raised about $5,500. This year, we raised $13,792 before Thanksgiving,” said Lt. Matt Trantham of The Salvation Army of Nash/ Edgecombe Counties. “Friday we did about $1,000 more than we did last year. We’re ahead. It’s been a good campaign so far.”
The Army’s local (Nash/Edgecombe) kettle campaign goal this year is $100,000, and the campaign runs through Christmas Eve. Last year, the campaign raised $101,805.
In Tarboro, the bell ringers are all volunteers, and in Rocky Mount and Nashville, Trantham said the volunteer base has doubled this year.
“We’ve been incredibly thankful to Kenny Honeycutt of (Tarboro) Piggly Wiggly, as he has his employees ringing for us,” Trantham said.
Bell ringing at the supermarket began the day before Thanksgiving, and by Monday, the store already had a couple of kettlefuls worth of donations.
“We had three or four buckets and this is the only one we have left,” said store employee Cierra West. “Some people are generous and nice and they’ll just give and give and give.”
Margaret Forrest, a regular Piggly Wiggly customer, dropped some money into the kettle Monday afternoon. She has been contributing to the kettle campaign for years.
“Everybody needs help one way or another — prayers or money,” Forrest said.
At the Tarboro Wal-Mart, bell ringing began on Black Friday. Libby Todd and Penny Hoard work together to coordinate volunteer bell ringing at Tarboro Wal-Mart Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays, while the Golden K Kiwanis coordinate volunteer bell ringing at the store Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. Todd said Thanksgiving’s late arrival this year means less days of bell ringing, but she has seen a “wonderful response” from the community so far this year.
“We have confidence in our community that we’ll pull through and do what we need to do,” she said.
Kay Gardner, an employee at Keihin Carolina System Technology, rang the bell early Monday afternoon at Wal-Mart, and said passersby gave generously.
“It’s just wonderful to see everybody willing to share,” Gardner said. “It’s just a true blessing. Just think of how many people this is going to help.”
Last holiday season, Gardner said a lady stopped by the kettle and told her she and her husband were unemployed, but that didn’t stop her from contributing to the kettle campaign.
“She dug deep down in her pocket and gave some change,” Gardner said. “It’s always better to give than to receive.”
Most of the money raised from this year’s kettle campaign will be used to help the Salvation Army purchase toys for its Angel Tree program.
“We’ve added about 800 children to our number. All in all, we’re helping close to 2,000 children this year,” Trantham said. Families must apply to participate in the program, and assistance is based on household income.
The Salvation Army will use the rest of the money raised in the kettle campaign to restock its food pantry and help needy community members pay rent and utility bills.
“The mission of The Salvation Army is to meet people’s basic needs in Christ’s name without discrimination,” Trantham said.
Those interested in ringing the bell in two-hour shifts at the Tarboro Wal-Mart should contact Libby Todd at 883-3060 or Penny Hoard at 883-7265.