For more than 100 years, The Salvation Army has rung bells to celebrate the holidays and help the needy.
This year, their bells have been ringing since Nov. 12 in many places across the North Shore, at the red kettles in which they accept donations.
“At any one time, we have 25 businesses that allow us to stand in front of their location,” said Capt. Scott McNeil, who leads the regional Salvation Army in Salem. “We’ll go through every day, except Sundays, right to Christmas Eve.”
While the holiday season only lasts a few weeks, the donations collected during this time make a difference all year.
“It’s the most important fund-raiser, to keep us open and operating,” McNeil said.
The Salvation Army has already used some of those funds to distribute more than 400 meals in time for Thursday’s Thanksgiving dinners. Now, through their Angel Trees program, The Salvation Army will also try to make the holidays special for children by providing not just any gift, but the one they really want for Christmas. Angel Trees are Christmas trees, placed at local businesses, that are decorated with slips of paper on which children have written a gift request.
Members of the public are invited to buy the present a child has asked for, then return it with the slip to make some youngster’s Christmas dreams come true. Anyone who would like to participate but can’t find an Angel Tree is welcome to call The Salvation Army’s Salem office and ask for a gift request.
The phone number at The Salvation Army in Salem is 978-744-5181.
“We’re always looking for businesses to host an Angel,” McNeil said. “Also, possibly, for someone to adopt a family.”
Such adoptions, which are conducted in strictest confidence, would link a potential donor with a family that needs help during the holidays.