WESTFIELD-With the “red kettle” season only weeks away for the Salvation Army, “hundreds” of volunteers are being sought to ensure that key locations across the city will be covered during the holiday season.
Stop & Shop is one of the key locations designated by the Salvation Army for its annual campaign, along with Walmart, BonTon and the Dunkin Donuts on Main Street and at the Little River Plaza. On Wednesday afternoon while setting up for a photograph for this story, city residents were already dropping money in the kettle.
“People in Westfield are so generous in giving their time and money,” said Emily Mew, field representative, Salvation Army. “We rely on the community’s support during our holiday drives so we can continue to provide needed services.”
Mew said the fundraising goal has been set for $25,000 for the drive which starts the week of Thanksgiving and ends around 5 p.m. on Christmas Eve. Salvation Army bell ringers will also be stationed outside BonTon during part of its Community Days promotion Nov. 10-11. Mary Lou Dazelle is serving as kettle coordinator.
Area residents interested in signing up for either a two-hour or four-hour block of time (between 10 a.m. and 8 p.m., Monday through Saturday) to ring bells are asked to contact Dazelle at (413) 356-3790 or via email to [email protected].
“This goal represents a 10 percent increase over what we raised last year to assist local families who need our help,” said Mew.
Laurie Matthews, who is the familiar face of the local Salvation Army office, echoed those sentiments.
“Funds collected stay local to help families in need at Christmas and all year round,” said Matthews.
Matthews noted that just on Wednesday she had received more than 50 telephone calls about signing up for Thanksgiving turkeys and Christmas gifts for children (newborn to age 16).
Matthews and her crew will be signing up families from 9 a.m. to noon on Oct. 31-Nov. 2, and Nov. 7-10, at the Amelia Park Ice Arena, 21 South Broad St.
A winter coat distribution for all ages is also planned Nov. 7-10 from 9 a.m. to noon at Amelia Park Ice Arena.
“We have coats for all ages, however, we are limited to providing one coat per family member,” said Matthews.
Donations of coats may be dropped off Nov. 7 from 9 a.m. to noon or you can call (413) 231-7917 and Matthews can make arrangements to have the coat retrieved.
Mew was also excited to announce two new partnerships with the Salvation Army, as well as a new location for the organization which is by appointment only.
“As we continue to grow the Salvation Army office in Westfield, we continue to seek partnerships and collaborations like our new relationships with the Westfield Council on Aging and the Samaritan Inn,” said Mew. “We now have an office space at the Samaritan Inn on Free Street; however, appointments are required by calling 231-7917 to ensure everyone has the time they need when meeting with our volunteer staff.”
For individuals, businesses or organizations interested in getting involved in partnerships with the Salvation Army or participating in special programs including Adopt-A-Family or donating a turkey for Thanksgiving, contact Mew at (339) 502-5868 or via email to [email protected].
“Years ago when I was injured and lost my job, my family had to go to the Salvation Army for food and clothing,” said Rob Matthews. “The Salvation Army helped us and since that time we have donated our time so we could help others. I especially enjoy ringing the bells and engaging with people. I am the quintessential people person.”
Anita Barnes, who has volunteered for the Salvation Army for 15 years, echoed those sentiments.
“My family also had sought help from the Salvation Army more than 15 years ago and they assisted me,” said Barnes. “Since that time I have been volunteering in the office and working the holiday distribution programs. I have seen that a lot of people in Westfield are in need. I am happy that I can help out to help others.”
Dazelle, also a volunteer for 15 years, concurred.
“I believe in the Salvation Army mission which is why I have volunteered for many years,” said Dazelle. “My hope is we can fill all of the blocks of time this holiday season with bell ringers. We especially welcome students who are in need of completing service hours, organizations, business and church groups, as well as young people in organizations including 4-H clubs, Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts.”