Plans under way for Christmas kettle drive
by W. Winston Skinner
Christmas is still weeks away, but staff and volunteers at the local Salvation Army Service Center are busy making plans for the annual Red Kettle Drive.
The drive, with bell ringers and traditional red kettles at stores and other busy locations, is a major fundraiser for the ministry. Funds raised in Coweta County are used to help Coweta families.
The board’s Christmas committee is “exceptional,” said Bette Hickman, who chairs the advisory board.
“We have had two meetings,” she said. “We’ve gotten wonderful expertise.”
Fred Miles, once a kettle volunteer, is now on the advisory board. He has provided valuable insight on “what we can do to improve,” Hickman said.
Board secretary Evelyn Repass said the kettle drive will begin Nov. 22, the Friday before Thanksgiving. “We will begin where we can get local permission,” she said.
Repass said the drive will start before the national project, which means bell ringing cannot start at some locations until after Thanksgiving.
“There is an official kickoff for kettle work,” Repass said.
The Salvation Army is considering working with a group from Crossroads Church, which will be having an event at Walmart on Black Friday. The advisory board spoke about including the Salvation Army canteen.
“They’ll be starting at midnight Thanksgiving Day,” vice-chair Larry Repass said of the Crossroads event.
“When board members are out there ringing, it means a lot to the community,” Hickman said. Identifying key locations where donations have traditionally been high is part of the planning process this year. “The locations of the kettles — thats so important,” Repass said. “We want to really focus on our primary locations and then fan out when we can,” Repass said.
Plans are also under way to seek volunteers from civic clubs and other organizations.
“We are getting an early jump on everything,” she said. “Hopefully, we’re going to get a really good response on volunteers.”
Having music at the kettles adds a festive note. A brass ensemble from the Salvation Army in Atlanta will be playing at Walmart on Dec. 14 from 6-8 p.m.
Advisory board member Margaret Headley has developed a brochure that will be used to drum up support for the project with churches, clubs and individuals. Copies of the brochure were shared at the meeting.
Headley also has created a presence for the project on Facebook. “I love that she’s already put it on Facebook ,” Hickman said. “I think she’s done an outstanding job.”