Category Archives: Tree of Lights

More Than 60 Area Families in This Year’s Adopt-A-Family Program Still Need Donors

Christmas should be a joyous time of year for all of us. Every child should have the opportunity to experience the magic and thrill of the season. Unfortunately, for many, Christmas is not a time of celebration, but a time of added stress and financial challenge. The Salvation Army Adopt-A-Family program works to help some of the most disadvantaged families in our area enjoy the blessings of Christmastime.

This year, we received a larger number of family applications due in part to the late-season tornadoes that devastated a number of communities in our region. The need this year is great – more than 60 families remain on our available “adopt” list. Though Christmas Day is fast approaching, there is still time to help provide holiday meals and gifts to these families who would otherwise go without.

When you choose to become a sponsor of a family through the Adopt-A-Family program, you will be matched with a family whose needs meet your capacity to give. You will receive a summary about your family and the situation with which they are faced. Your summary will include the genders, ages and sizes of each family member and a list of needed or requested items, such as food, toys and clothing. You can choose to adopt a small or large family, or even multiple families.

This is a last-minute push for assistance. Gifts and food items for adopted families will need to be received at the Salvation Army Headquarters by the end of this week.

To adopt a family – or families – or more information on how you can help, please call 314-646-3000 and ask for our Adopt a Family coordinator. You can also offer your help by emailing adoptafamily@usc.salvationarmy.org.

The Adopt-A-Family program is a rewarding way to come together with members of your own family, workplace, church group or neighborhood to give back to those less fortunate and truly celebrate the meaning of the Christmas holiday.

As you bask in the warm glow of your own family Christmas tree and give thanks for the blessings in your life, please remember those less fortunate.

On behalf of the families we serve, thank you and have a blessed holiday.

9 things to look forward to before Christmas

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It’s our favorite time of year! The time when we celebrate the merriest of seasons while working to ensure a safety net and a hand up for our friends and neighbors who have fallen on tough times. So in the next few weeks, here are the things we are celebrating, and we hope you will too!

[Update 12/5/13] The ending time for Cans Film Festival was misstated as 6pm when it ends at 5pm. Our apologies for the confusion!

1. Giving Tuesday – December 3

This new, annual tradition is celebrated by charities all around the globe, and we would be honored to receive your support. Without your help, children all over Missouri and southern Illinois would not have Christmas and feel the love and security that all children deserve to feel. Make a donation December 3, and feel great that you have made a difference.

2. Cans Film Festival – December 7 from 9am – 5pm

Let’s check off the movies we want to see, shall we? The Hunger Games: Catching Fire. Frozen. 12 Years a Slave. Last Vegas. The Book Thief. Or, if it’s your thing, Bad Grandpa. And you can see them for the great price of 5 CANNED GOODS at all Wehrenberg Theaters. That’s right. What would normally cost you $10-15 depending on the theater, will cost you the very reasonable price of 5 cans per person at all Wehrenberg locations. The goal is to raise 500,000 cans for families in need, so bring the family and enjoy the show.

3. Rams Ring Bells with Fox 2/KPLR 11 – December 10

The St. Louis Rams and Emerson have a challenge for everyone: as the Fox 2/KPLR 11 personalities and our favorite Rams players ring the bell at the Des Peres Schnucks, the goal is to raise $25,000. That includes a dollar for dollar match up to $10,000 thanks to Emerson. Shake some hands, snap a picture, and give hope to people in our community. Win-win-win.

4. Walmart Fill the Truck – December 13 4pm – 8pm, December 14 8am – 5pm

While you’re out shopping for the loved ones in your life, drop off an unwrapped toy in marked bins at Walmarts throughout the region, and we will distribute that toy to kids in need in partnership with Toys for Tots.

5. KCS Holiday Express – December 14 1:30pm – 7:30pm

After a few years of passing by St. Louis, the Kansas City Southern Holiday Express is BACK! As KCS generously donates gift cards to us from their employees to purchase toys and coats for kids in need, Union Station and KCS will host a Winter Wonderland including photos with Santa, face painting, balloon artists, interactive sports inflatables, cookies, hot chocolate, holiday music and movies! This is entirely free for all, so come down and get the kids rallied for Christmas!

6. Cardinals ring bells – December 17

Come grab a picture and hang out with your St. Louis Cardinals and drop some money in the kettle in the process! Come out to the Richmond Heights Schnucks from 10am – 6pm to hang with our NLCS champions.

7. Win a car from Bommarito Auto Group & Fox 2/KPLR 11 – Now until December 29

Drop some virtual change in your favorite personality’s kettle, and get a chance to win a brand new Mazda 3 courtesy of Bommarito Auto Group. $10 will get you one entry, and the number of entries are unlimited. Ever gotten a new car for $10? Now’s your chance. And all money goes to support The Salvation Army’s efforts to help people all across Missouri and southern Illinois.

8. Trans Siberian Orchestra – December 23

Our favorite Christmas group is back, and they are giving us $.25 of every ticket sold! So know that when you buy your tickets, they are going to a great cause!

9. Test drive a Fiat – now until December 31

Fiats are wonderful cars, and Lou Fusz is donating $25 for every car test driven at their Fiat Illinois and Creve Coeur locations as an extra incentive to fall in love with your new wheels!

Tell us which of these you are most looking forward to–and we’re excited to see you!

 

How does this make you feel?

I posed a question on our Facebook page about seeing the bell-ringers this time of year. There are several feelings that come about when you talk about Salvation Army bell-ringers–I’ve heard people say “Oh great, here they are again…” “STOP RINGING, that is so annoying” “Aww it makes me feel like Christmas is here!”… and on, and on. So I thought I would get some unedited Facebook commentary about how our dedicated volunteer army of fundraisers is being perceived. One comment summed it all up:

facebook comment

 

For the 350,000 people we serve each year, that bell and kettle means something special. It means a warm meal, and a safe place; it means the lights stay on, Christmas for your kids is not forgotten, and the opportunity to go to camp in the summertime. It means the chance to grow up healthy, to shed old habits, and to receive the help to build a path to a better future.

Most people don’t come to The Salvation Army when their lives are in perfect order. And just like you need to be prepared for a crisis BEFORE it happens, we prepare 365 days a year, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to accommodate the hundreds of thousands of people who need some extra help.

The Tree of Lights campaign is in full swing; we are raising the needed dollars it takes to keep the doors open year ’round and all of the money stays local. So whether you can ring the bell proudly, host your own (virtual) kettle, or drop some change in to support our programs, you are helping us keep the mission going.

Because we want to be there for you, too, should you ever find yourself on our doorstep. And we will welcome you–every single one of you–with open arms.

6 reasons why ringing the bell is the best

Ever since Captain Joseph McFee set up a crab pot and rang a bell in San Francisco in 1891 to raise money for the hungry, bell ringing has been a Christmas tradition all over the country.

But what makes bell ringing REALLY special (other than the money it raises to support the community) are the amazing volunteers who spice things up every day during Christmas at the kettle. Our favorites:

1. Sleeves are optional! (But clothing is required)

Roswell’s Salvation Army is working to break the record for longest continuous kettle bell ringing.Starting on December 11, Ryan Gass plans to ring a bell for 65 hours, breaking last year’s record of 60 hours and 10 minutes.
Source: NY Daily News

2. Choreographed dances are not only awesome, they are encouraged.

3. You can invite birds to join you Disney style… or you can just make the bird calls yourself.

4. You get to see different methods of donating.

http://chicquero.files.wordpress.com/2013/01/dancers-among-us-chicquero-photography-dance-rockefeller_center_nyc.jpg?w=450&h=221
Source: http://chicquero.files.wordpress.com/

5. You and your friends can surprise EVERYONE with music.

6. Even your three year old can bell ring 🙂

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The majority of our funds collected throughout the year are collected by dedicated volunteers just like you to come and ring our bell. Grab some friends, spread some cheer, and be a part of the more than 4,000 volunteers we need this season to continue our efforts every day in this community. BONUS: every dollar collected here stays LOCAL. Like we said… bell ringing is the best (and so are you!) Please come and volunteer today to fill service hours, school requirements and more. And even become a virtual bell ringer and do some fundraising for your friends.

From the bottom of our hearts as we enter this Christmas season, thank you!

Christmas assistance is here!

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Christmas assistance applications are here! Head to our website to find out where you can sign up and how to apply if you and your family need some extra support this Christmas.

With toys in hand, our community saved Christmas

Yesterday, we had to turn away hundreds of families after they stood outside in the cold because we ran out of toys. Because of the goodness that lies in this community, that changed. Here the article showing how you helped save Christmas:

 

Shortly after The Salvation Army announced it had run out of toys for “Toy Town” yesterday, the donations started. More than 24 hours later, they have yet to stop.

All day and night, a steady line of cars were lined around the block full of action figures, sports equipment, stuffed animals, and more, all from generous community members who heard The Salvation Army’s call for help.

“We couldn’t even move around inside the building there were so many toys,” said Social Services Director Kim Beck. “We were able to provide toys for every child who came through our doors today.”

Yesterday, the first walk-in day for “Toy Town,” The Salvation Army experienced an overwhelming surge of need. More than 300 families – almost four times the turnout of previous years – braved the cold to participate, depleting the Army’s reserve of toys.

Beck estimated more than 5,000 toys were donated today.

“We were expecting an even larger turnout today, and that’s exactly what we saw,” Beck said. “We were able to serve 337 families, each of them averaging 3-4 children. And we had so many left over, we were able to help others, too.”

Because of the community’s support, The Salvation Army was able to provide 300 toys to the West End Neighborhood Council; 25 toys to Preferred Family Health Care; and 50 to the King of Kings Church in Berkley.

“I’m still floored by the generosity of our community,” Beck said. “To those of you who answered our call for help, we love you more than words can say and couldn’t have done this without you. Staff members were crying because we were so touched by your generosity. Thank you for believing in what we do.”

I find myself tearing up as I write this post. We had some wonderful volunteers and staff that made a huge difference as well, as shared by an employee, Beverly Logan:

Jonathan Moore, the firstborn of Captain Adam and Deannie, Corps Officers, saw a young boy trembling from the cold conditions. He instinctively took off HIS winter jacket wrapped him in it and tied the arms of the over-sized jacket to create a warm cocoon for him.

Susan and Genevieve (college students on Christmas break)  volunteered to screen applications and with minimal supervision created a system to facilitate the process .  Their father, Mike Greathouse, is a driver for the Corps.  Their sisterly bond brought a calming effect that enabled the client process to run efficiently.

You have humbled us with your generosity, and we see Christ’s love shine through each and every one of you.

 

May you have a blessed Christmas.

The Wonders of Christmas Through a Child

The following is a guest post by Sheila Davis, Volunteer Coordinator for Divisional Headquarters here in St. Louis.

Beyond the gift buying and trying to think of something new and exciting for friends and family, adults can come to discover the deeper meaning of Christmas. But for a child the biggest wonder of Christmas is the anticipation of what might be under the tree on Christmas morning. And a parent’s greatest joy is watching their child tear into that gaily wrapped gift with abandon and exclaim, “It’s exactly what I wished for!”

But sadly, the struggle with larger issues like keeping a roof over the family’s head and the possible of not having enough food to get through the week make it impossible for some parents to provide even a simple toy at Christmas.  Too many children in our community don’t experience the wonder of Christmas that many of us take for granted.  Some wish, not for toys and games, but for a coat, warm clothes or even a bed that their parents simply can’t provide.

You can help provide the wonder of Christmas to thousands of children in our community this year by volunteering for one or two of our upcoming events.  Join us this Saturday for the Walmart Fill the Truck toy drive.  All stores are participating.  Volunteers are needed to hand out flyers at the store’s entrances explaining the program with customers and help with the collection of the donated new toys and coats. We have volunteer 2-hour shifts for volunteers available starting at 9am until 5pm.  This is great service opportunity for a small family or group or students needing to complete service hours.

The toys collected at this drive will be distributed at our Toy Town Christmas Assistance Program the week of December 17th at several Salvation Army locations. Volunteers are needed to help sort and bag toys and gifts and help distribute the gifts to our pre-screened clients.  We are recruiting volunteers for the following locations:

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Salvation Army Family Haven CIP – 10740 West Page Avenue, 63132

Salvation Army Gateway Corps (South County) – 824 Union Road, 63123

Salvation Army Euclid Corps (North), 2618 N. Euclid Ave 63113

Please take a few hours out of your busy schedule this holiday season and help a child experience the wonders of Christmas.  To sign up for a shift for Walmart Fill the Truck or Toy Town visit www.stlsalvationarmy.org, click on “Ways to Give” and then select Volunteer. For more information contact Sheila Davis at sheila_r_davis@usc.salvationarmy.org or 314-646-3166 or Larry Pliemann at uscmidvolunteer@usc.salvationarmy.org or 314-646-3188.Salvation Army Temple Corps (South City), 2740 Arsenal St., 63118.

 

 

 

Local family makes volunteering at “Cans” a holiday tradition

The Flood family takes a break from packing cans at the Des Peres Wehrenberg Theatre.

To the Flood family, volunteering at The Salvation Army and Wehrenberg Theatre’s annual “Cans Film Festival” is a family affair. “It’s a part of our holiday season,” said Jan Flood. “We do it every year and we always look forward to it. If they ever quit doing this event, we don’t know what we’d do the first week in December.”

Jan and her husband, Mike, along with their three children — Nicki, Courtney, and Dan — have volunteered with “Cans” for more than 10 years.

Mike, an area manager for UPS, introduced the family to the event when UPS first became involved.

“We convinced the kids to go when they were little just so they could watch Disney movies at the theater; at first they weren’t volunteers,” Jan said. “But as they got older, they wanted to get involved. And we haven’t looked back since.”

The Flood children are so dedicated to the event now, Nicki, now 19-years-old, took a train from Kansas City the night before the event just so she could volunteer.

“I usually don’t come home on the weekends, but I wouldn’t miss this,” she said. “It’s a family tradition now, and it’s something we all look forward to every year.”

Jan agreed.

“We’ve developed a camaraderie with the other volunteers and employees and have so much fun with it. The people here at Wehrenberg are always so nice and take great care of us,” she said. “I couldn’t imagine not being a part of this.”

Throughout the years, the Flood family said they have several fond memories made while volunteering at “Cans.”

“Before everything went digital, we got to take a tour of the projection room one year,” Jan said. “And one year while we were waiting for the UPS truck to arrive, some of the boys made a castle out of the boxes; that was pretty entertaining.”

Mike said he remembers making deliveries to The Salvation Army back in 1978 and seeing the need for events like “Cans.”

“There are so many people who are in need,” he said. “And from actually seeing the people in person who benefit from what we do here at Cans, it makes it even more enjoyable and worthwhile.”

The Flood family, as well as the hundreds of other volunteers who took part in the event Dec. 1, were able to collect and process 330,000 canned goods by5 p.m. when the event concluded.

It’s Official: Our Veterans Residence is a Reality

Today was an incredible day for veterans in St. Louis.

The Salvation Army opened our Veterans Residence in Midtown with some valued company. Mayor Francis Slay, St. Louis County Executive Charlie Dooley, Major General Greg Couch US TRANSCOM Chief of Staff, Alderwoman Marlene Davis of the 19th Ward in St. Louis, John Wuest of St. Louis Equity Fund, and aides from the Governor’s office and other government offices were there to show their support of this great undertaking. From The Salvation Army we were so pleased to have our National Commander William Roberts present, as well as Commissioner Nancy Roberts, Colonel Merle Heatwole, and Colonel Dawn Heatwole.

The Veterans Residence has 48 apartments adorned with marble counter tops, green amenities and even flat screen TVs. Half of the building is permanent housing, and other other 24 apartments are 2 year transitional housing to make sure that basic needs are met while they work on the other areas of their lives that need support. Some might have substance abuse issues or other concerns, so case management works directly with all the men and women who enter the facility. The goal when these men and women leave the 2 year program will be to have employment, another place to live and money in the bank.

Today also kicked off our Tree of Lights campaign, so it is officially kettle season for St. Louis.

We’re so grateful to everyone that could attend. Today was a great day.

Divisional Commander Major Lonneal Richardson holding the ribbon high.

‘Tis (almost) the Season

'Tis (almost) the Season

It’s that time of year where in a few weeks, volunteers just like you will be out in full swing at grocery stores, department stores and other hot spots ringing that bell and helping raise money for our community. But we want to know what you think of when you see our bell ringers. Christmas dinner shopping? Wrapping presents? Poverty? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

And if you want to be a bell ringer that makes our work possible, sign up here.

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