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Salvation Army will bring out the red kettles early this year

Ottawa, La Salle-Peru agency asks for volunteers

Lawanda Hanlon rings the bell while collecting donations at a Peru grocery store during the 2019 Christmas season.
Lawanda Hanlon rings the bell while collecting donations at a Peru grocery store during the 2019 Christmas season.

The Salvation Army is starting its Red Kettle Campaign earlier than ever to help people affected by COVID-19.

Based on the increased service already provided this year because of COVID-19, the non-profit group could serve up to 30% more people this year with Christmas assistance.

“To help ensure that no one goes without assistance during the holidays, we are launching our national 'Rescue Christmas' campaign as an effort to raise public awareness of the profound need that we are seeing," said Lt. Justice Smith, of the Ottawa and Northern La Salle County Salvation Army. “These funds raised during the kettle campaign help place presents under the tree, put food on the table, help to pay bills and provide shelter for those without a home."

Because of a number of factors related to COVID-19 — including social-distancing rules, fewer holiday shoppers at stores, and greater demand for assistance — The Salvation Army expects contributions to Red Kettles will drop substantially.

In Ottawa and Northern La Salle County, the local group relies on $64,000 of its budget from Red Kettles to do listed local programs. Nationally, 82 cents of every dollar donated to The Salvation Army goes directly toward funding Salvation Army initiatives. And all the money stays within in the local community it was given, Smith said.

The Salvation Army in Ottawa serves several communities north of Grand Ridge, including Ottawa, La Salle, Peru, Oglesby, Marseilles, Seneca, Sheridan and Leland.

Contact Smith at justice.smith@usc.salvationarmy.org for more information or to volunteer.

"We have bell ringing opportunities, Angel Tree tags, and volunteer opportunities to name a few ways to become involved," Smith said.

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