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Salvation Army’s Red Kettle Campaign returns to rescue for people in need

Dewey Thompson, of Butler, rings a bell Monday for The Salvation Army’s Red Kettle Campaign at Save A Lot at Pullman Square in Butler. Thompson said, “I had a girlfriend who passed away. She used to ring the bell. She's looking at me and she knows.” Thompson worked for the program last year; this is his second season. Cary Shaffer/Butler Eagle

Bells will be ringing again this holiday season.

The Salvation Army will deliver help to people struggling to eat, to heat their homes and to cover rent this holiday season through its annual Red Kettle Campaign.

Any donor can lend a hand to vulnerable people by dropping cash into the red kettles sprinkled throughout the county, marked by Salvation Army representatives clad in red aprons and swinging bells.

Operating locations already include the Walmart stores at 400 Butler Commons in Butler Township and 10 Kimberly Lane in Cranberry Township; the Sam’s Club at 200 Moraine Pointe Plaza in Butler Township; and the Save A Lot at 300 Pullman Square in Butler. New donation sites will open Wednesday outside the Giant Eagle at 206 Seven Fields Boulevard in Seven Fields and Friday outside Boscov’s at Clearview Mall in Center Township.

Anyone can donate at designated sites from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Saturday until Christmas Eve.

“There’s always people that are in need, here at Christmastime because they’re trying to keep the utilities on and that, but throughout the year with rental help and utility help people need,” said Darlene Means, who serves as major of the Salvation Army’s Butler Corps.

Means said just talking to donors — letting them know what their donations are going toward — and helping vulnerable people makes the work most rewarding.

Funds gathered from donors will go toward feeding programs, utility assistance, rental assistance, seasonal assistance, spiritual programs, an after-school youth empowerment program and other charitable work.

The organization also will draw on funds to spearhead its Angel Tree Tags program, which brings gifts to children younger than 12 and seniors 60 or older, Means said.

Coordinators for this program hang tags from trees within indoor venues, often shopping malls. Each tag bears the name, age and toy requests for donors to select, and donors can then pledge to send along the toys requested.

“A lot of companies will call and ask us for names,” Means said. “They’ll ask for like 50 angel tree tags. And they’ll either want all children, or they’ll want 25 children and 25 seniors.”

The Salvation Army then reaches out to households where the children or seniors in need live, designating times when they can retrieve gifts. Everyone receives the chance to procure gifts Dec. 21 at the Salvation Army Butler Corps headquarters.

“And the people will come here,” Means said. “Parents will pick up the toys for their children, and seniors will come and pick up their items that they put down on their wish list. And they’ll get their Christmas dinner.”

The Christmas dinners come in boxes packaged with the supplies needed to craft a festive feast.

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