Guests at today’s Tree of Lights Campaign Kick-Off were challenged to “live large!”  – love more, give more, dig deeper – especially in light of the poverty rate in Indiana being the worst in over 30 years. Advisory Board Member Lonnie Perkins began the ceremony with scripture from Hebrews, calling us to remember to welcome strangers, to care for orphans, widows and those in prison. It was an appropriate call to action as The Salvation Army Indiana heads into the Tree of Lights season with a goal of $3.2 million.

WISH-TV8’s Eric Halvorson and honorary Chairman of Tree of Lights for the 7th year introduced  St. Richard’s School 4th Grade Choir, under the direction of Marian Bender. The St. Richard’s students brought the first sounds of Christmas once again with several seasonal songs, followed by the traditional corporate singing of the first carol, “Joy To The World.”

Walmart and The Salvation Army Women’s Auxiliary both presented the first contributions to the Tree of Lights Campaign.

A special volunteer was remembered, Priscilla Gill who passed away this summer and was a bell ringer for over 40 years for The Salvation Army. Also, a group of students from Lynhurst 7th & 8th Grade Center was given a plaque for their continuing efforts on behalf of the Army.

Stephanie Moore, Childcare Director at the Salvation Army’s Social Service Center, gave her testimony of how the Army helped her many years ago and continues to give her hope – an example of lives changed by the ministries of The Salvation Army.

On hand to drive home the fundraising challenge was Salvation Army Advisory Board Member Tom Zupancic and Big Joe Staysniak of 1070 the Fan – both also being Chairmen of the annual WIBC Radiothon, held Dec. 9-11 this year.

Majors Keith and Sherri Welch reminded guests that the dollar amount of $3.2 million “doesn’t define what our goal really is.” They put the goal into perspective in terms of people’s lives – the goal being to save 2,500 people from substance abuse; to provide 100,000 safe nights of shelter for the homeless and abused; to serve more than 2 million meals to men, women and children who go hungry in our community.

“Our goal, our mission, is to continue to meet the needs of humanity in God’s name, without discrimination. I ask each of you – and everyone who can – to give to The Salvation Army this holiday season, so we can continue to serve our neighbors in need,” shared Major Keith Welch.

A special thank you is extended to our WISH Tree sponsors – Ed Martin Automotive, MCL Restaurant & Bakery and Huntington Bank as well as GFS Marketplace and Kroger for providing refreshments.

Also, we appreciate and thank our Tree of Lights Tree sponsor Walmart for making possible the beautiful display for Tree of Lights and presenting a check for $7,500.