Kickoff testimonial 2013Everyone was bundled up, but the cold air couldn’t keep smiles off the faces of participants at this year’s Red Kettle Christmas Campaign Kickoff, held at The Salvation Army Indiana Divisional Headquarters. The event opened with Christmas music courtesy of The Salvation Army Brass Ensemble and the St. Richard’s Dragonettes, helping everyone get into the spirit of the season.

Advisory Board Vice Chairman Carl Heckman welcomed the gathered crowd and invited Captain Aaron Ortman to start the kickoff ceremony with a prayer, reminding us all that The Salvation Army’s efforts this Christmas season serve a higher purpose. When Major Turner stepped up to the podium next, he spelled this out for the audience:

Last year, through the generosity of Hoosiers, The Salvation Army in central Indiana provided more than 522,000 meals and more than 106,000 safe nights of shelter to our neighbors in need. As great as those numbers are, they represent only part of the ministry we bring to people every day. You see, The Salvation Army is not just meeting the immediate needs of the hungry and homeless, we’re providing them with the tools to get back on their feet and regain independence. We’re helping them to once again find the hope they’ve lost. This year’s goal is $3.2 million. With your help, we can reach this goal and continue to serve our community.

Behind Major Turner, a large sign had been installed in front of the Divisional Headquarters. It shows the Red Kettle Campaign goal of $3.2 million alongside a thermometer that will track the fundraising efforts leading up to Christmas. Thanks to several generous donations, the mercury is already rising, but we still have a long way to go.

Kevin Thompson, Walmart’s Director of Public Affairs and Community Relations, brought a $7,500 donation from Walmart to go toward the Red Kettle Campaign. The Salvation Army Women’s Auxiliary also presented Major Turner with a $2,500 check and the members of The Salvation Army Advisory Board pooled their resources and presented a $46,000 check. These donations provide us with a great start as the kettles head out to locations across central Indiana.

Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard spoke to the audience about the impact that the ongoing economic downturn has had on those in the city who were already struggling with poverty, hunger and addiction. He emphasized the importance of organizations like The Salvation Army that help with needs today and provide hope for the future.

Other guest speakers included WISH-TV 8’s Eric Halvorson, who spoke about the WISH Tree toy collection campaign, which benefits The Salvation Army Toy Shop. Steve Simpson, from WIBC, was on hand to announce the 2013 WIBC Radiothon goal of $225,000. This money goes directly toward The Salvation Army’s Bed and Bread Club, helping to feed and shelter those in need. John Elliott, Kroger’s Public Affairs Manager, discussed Kroger‘s partnership with The Salvation Army and its goal to raise $1 million at red kettles located at its stores.

When Tanee Lawson, a mother of six who sought comfort and help during a time of crisis, took the stage, the facts and figures gained a human face. With The Salvation Army by her side, Ms. Lawson’s children have the food, clothing and shelter that they need. Her words reminded us that every penny, every dollar, every hour given to ring a bell, allows The Salvation Army to do the most good every day in our community.

Follow our progress toward the $3.2 million Red Kettle Christmas Campaign goal at OR “Like” us on Facebook and “Follow Us” on Twitter.