Springfield Salvation Army kicks off annual kettle drive

The Salvation Army Springfield Corps kicked off its holiday fundraising drive Friday with a luncheon at the Courtyard by Marriott in downtown Springfield.

Bell ringers from the organization will collect donations over the next several weeks, spokesman Ryan Ray said.

“This really sustains us throughout the winter and spring,” he said.

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The money collected supports a variety of programs, many of which provide activities and other assistance for children in the county. The agency provides activities including a camp for children with disabilities, a tae kwon do program, music lessons and and programs for at-risk youth, Ryan said.

It will be the ninth year in a row the luncheon has kicked off the event, he said. The organization raised about $130,000 in donations last year to support the programs.

“This is a gathering of everything right in Springfield,” Ray said of those who attended Friday’s event.

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Even small donations and spare change go a long way in supporting the agency throughout the year, Ray said. Most of the bell ringers are volunteers, although the agency hosted a hiring event earlier this to find paid bell ringers to collect donations at various locations throughout Clark County.

“We’re hoping when people see a kettle, they don’t just walk by,” Ryan said.

The organization is also still accepting donation of toys for local students this year, particularly gifts for teenagers.

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An annual Holiday Hiker toy Drive, which took place in October, saw lower than expected turnout due to bad weather. The agency saw about half the number of bikers and toys they were expecting.

This year more than 2,000 kids have been signed up to receive Christmas gifts. The toy drive tries to get toys close to each child’s wish list. The Salvation Army provides gifts up to the age of 17. That’s an age group that is often missed, Ray said.

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