Determined that no community member go without, The Salvation Army of Indiana County opened its 2013 Red Kettle campaign with the annual kickoff breakfast and auction this morning.
Speaking during the breakfast, which was held at the Indiana Country Club in White Township, advisory board member Jonathan Mack told the 400 or so attendees that the event is an example of the community linking arms, working together to help those in need.
And to that end, The Salvation Army is hoping to at least match last year’s campaign total of $114,100, if not outdo it.
The breakfast helped get the campaign off to a good start, although officials said a total wasn’t yet available as of late this morning.
However, that total will include a $3,428 donation from Indiana University of Pennsylvania’s fraternities and sororities. IUP Greeks have contributed to the campaign in the past — roughly $21,000 all told, Indiana University of Pennsylvania President Michael Driscoll told attendees.
The money raised through the kettle campaign provides the bulk of The Salvation Army’s outreach budget, which funds programs that offer after-school tutoring, new shoes and winter wear for school-aged children, groceries, assistance with utilities, and holiday presents.
Capt. Erin Brand said that locally The Salvation Army has noticed an increasing need for its services. Brand said the after-effects of the recession seem to be just now catching up to the county and, on top of that, prices for the must-haves, things like food and fuel, are rising.
She also said the organization is seeing more requests for help from young families in which the parents have college degrees but can’t find work.
Mack said that’s precisely why The Salvation Army exists, to help bridge the gap.
He encouraged attendees — as well as those in the community — to give generously, adding that he believes they have an obligation to help those who can’t help themselves.
As part of the campaign, The Salvation Army will have 13 kettles with attendant bell-ringers stationed throughout the county this year, including one at a new location — in front of IUP’s Hadley Union Building.
Brand said she is glad to have a kettle there because it furthers the existing relationship with the university and will help to call students’ attention to The Salvation Army and its mission.
Plus it’s simply an ideal location, she said.
“We’re very excited to see how that kettle does,” Brand said.
Some of the kettles are out now. Most of the others will be out by week’s end.
Brand said the organization is still looking for volunteers to man the kettles. People and organizations wishing to volunteer may do so by calling The Salvation Army at (724) 465-2530.
Also during the breakfast, Capt. John Brand gave a special recognition to the late Denice Conner, a 28-year employee of The Salvation Army. Conner passed away in April at the age of 53.
Conner served as the social services program coordinator. In recalling Conner’s service, Brand said she was the backbone of the operation and had a big heart for children.
He presented her sister, Ruthann Foster, with a gift in honor of Conner’s service and dedication.