The Red Kettle days of The Salvation Army are going on this holiday season as they have for more than a century to bring hope through public donations, to thousands of persons in vulnerable and poverty-stricken situations.
Volunteers began manning their post at the Oelwein Fareway on Monday, Nov. 22, and will continue to be there daily through Dec. 23. Jim Yokas, local volunteer coordinator for The Salvation Army says the needs in this community are real and there are many who struggle every day to make ends meet. That is why he began volunteering with The Salvation Army about five years ago, knowing that the local effort needed to keep going to support the people in the community.
“I came out of a store in Waterloo and saw the volunteer ringing his bell at the red kettle. I made a donation, but wondered how and who it was going to help, so I ended up calling the Waterloo headquarters to find out more. That’s when I decided to get involved and organize volunteers in Oelwein,” Yokas said. “I find it very rewarding and I’m sure others who volunteer for a few hours when they can, also feel the same way. We are helping by maintaining a presence and a location for donating.”
Yokas explained that the iconic red kettle is a symbol of hope. Local donations help locally in many ways from feeding the hungry to assisting with necessities such as utilities, clothing, rent or gas in a vehicle, to Christmas gifts.
The Salvation Army grew from an event in 1891 where one pot was used to collect funds to feed a free Christmas dinner to San Francisco’s destitute and poverty-stricken community. Today the annual Red Kettle campaign is one of the most impactful outreach missions known around the globe.
“We are here to help anyone who needs help. Everyone’s needs are different, but that doesn’t make them less important than another. If we can brighten the Christmas season for those struggling, it makes ours brighter, too,” Yokas said. He welcomes anyone who would like to volunteer at the red kettle to call him at 318-283-3003.