Salvation Army gearing up for food drive

by W. Winston Skinner

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Stephanie May, director of the local Salvation Army Service Center, talks with advisory board members.

The local Salvation Army Service Center is getting ready for the ministry’s annual food drive.

The project was discussed at the local advisory board meeting at the service center on Jan. 23. The Feb. 8 event will be “our biggest canned food drive of the year,” Stephanie May, service center director, said.

“We fill our pantry,” she said. “It keeps our pantry full.”

May also talked about the Salvation Army Week, which will be May 12-17. May said it was decided to hold only three events during the week this year — one of those being a 5K run at the Coweta County Fairgrounds on May 17.

More events were held in 2013. The goal is to “focus on what we need to do and do it 110 percent,” May said.

Much discussion centered on the highly successful red kettle drive at Christmas, which netted $75,027.61. “I was thrilled to see that — because of the bad weather. To see that happen was really incredible,” board member Cecil Cornwell said.

“We have far exceeded our kettle goal for 2013. It was a wonderful season. Everything ran beautifully. It was well organized. We had the community step up,” May said.

Board member Fred Miles shared his analysis of contributions to various red kettle sites. He also looked at donation levels with regard to time of day and to donations to standalone “kettles” on counters at businesses.

A total of $945 was collected from the counter kettles.

Staff member Daryl Bullard said the program could grow with more of a yearlong approach. “We could really build this,” she said. “This $75,000 could be well over $100,000.”

“Actually, Christmas is a yearlong event,” Evelyn Repass, the board’s secretary and a retired Salvation Army officer. “When you finish one, you start planning another one.”

Changes made in the past year helped with this year’s drive. Board member Margaret Headley prepared a brochure which was used to promote the drive. “The brochure was tremendous,” said Bette Hickman, advisory board chairman.

“We really need to plan that kettle kickoff,” Repass said. The board has traditionally joined together to ring bells on kickoff day. Repass said a day when there can be high board participation needs to be ascertained “even if we’ve been ringing the bells for a week.”

Odyssey School helped ring bells and exceeded their $3,000 goal. The school will enjoy an ice cream social to celebrated. The school covered every Tuesday night and Thursday night at Kroger on Lower Fayetteville Road and all day Saturday at another location.

May said she would like to have a kettle coordinator hired this year by Sept. 12.

The drive “was extremely successful,” Hickman said. “Everytime we do something really successful, we need to look at the good things we did but also at the things we can do to improve.”

At Christmas, the Salvation Army’s Angel Tree program was handled using space offered by Bridging the Gap, another local ministry. “I was there for two or three days,” May said.

A total of 126 children from 57 families were served. While some outlets that have been used in the past to seek donors was not available in 2013, word was spread using social media and by word of mouth.

Companies sponsored many of the children. “Some companies would ask for 20 names,” May said.

“We didn’t turn away a family this year,” employee Daryl Bullard said. Every child got a stocking containing a coloring book, crayons, candy and a toothbrush and toothpaste.

“It worked out. The kids were happy for Christmas,” Bullard said.

The Fill the Truck event at WalMart netted lots of toys for Angel Tree and Christmas outreach. The effort was not particularly successful in 2012.

“We had some more time to plan it,” May said.

Center employee Daryl Bullard talked about the 2013 Fill the Truck event. “We were allowed to put these big bins in Walmart that were in the shape of a truck,” Bullard said. “They stayed in Walmart for about four weeks.”

Toys were collected as well as underwear and clothes for children from newborns through age 13.

Staff and volunteers sang carols on Fill the Truck Day. “We passed out bottled water and we passed out granola bars,” Bullard said.

In other business:

• May said there is a need for assistance with the canteen — “doing the mechanical hardwork with that.” Her father, Steve West, has volunteered to help.

“How wonderful that Stephanie’s father is willing to step up,” Hickman said.

• there was as discussion of a new recycling program being used at Georgia service centers.

•¨Hickman said “some kind of dedication ceremony” should be held for the drive-around dropoff area for donations. She said donors Steve and Nancy Mader should be honored.

May said the local Salvation Army served 82 families Thanksgiving dinner in 2013. It was “the best Thanksgiving situation we’ve had,” she said.

“We had to turn away volunteers. I never thought I’d be in the position of having to turn away volunteers,” she said.

Also at Christmas, 25 senior citizens received gift cards for a meal.



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