Salvation Army here begins annual Christmas bell-ringing campaign

Published 10:00 pm Saturday, November 22, 2003

By By BEN RAYMOND LODE / Niles Daily Star
NILES - Dan and Amy Voss at the Niles Salvation Army are gearing up for a new fund-raising season these days.
And here, like all across the country, a certain red kettle plays an important role in their fund-raising effort.
The Salvation Army's red-kettle campaign is a tradition that was launched after a San Francisco Salvation Army captain in 1891 decided to do something for the city's poor by providing them with a free Christmas dinner.
To pay for the food, the captain put a large pot outside at a ferry landing in a spot where those using the ferry boats could easily see it.
Red kettles has since been used by the Salvation Army to collect money during their annual fund-raising campaign.
Dan Voss said the kettle campaign, which kicks off here on Monday and goes until Christmas Eve, makes up a large part of the Niles Salvation Army's yearly social services budget.
The services budget includes, among other things, the Salvation Army's heating assistance program which helps many residents here to pay their energy bills throughout the winter.
Voss encourages more people to apply to become kettle carriers.
Voss said it has so far been confirmed carriers will be located at Wal-Mart, Legus Shell and Save-A-Lot in Niles, Harding's in Buchanan and Cassopolis and Felpausch Food Center in Dowagiac during the individual stores' opening hours.
Those who wish, Voss said, can apply to become kettle carriers up until Dec. 12.
Voss said one Salvation Army soldier will also take a counter top kettle throughout Cass County, an area that is served by the Niles Salvation Army.
The former Petoskey resident, who runs the Niles Salvation Army with his wife, Amy, thinks it's important people help those in need during the holiday season by donating food, toys and money.
The more people give, the better the Salvation Army is equipped to help make the holiday season a festive time for those who don't have the resources to cover all expenses related to it, he said.
Amy said the Niles Salvation Army is in need of donations of non-perishable foods, such as canned goods, and toys.
The Christmas distribution of food and toys to those who have applied and been approved to receive assistance, will begin on Dec. 18, she said.
Voss, however, doesn't appear to be afraid there will be a shortage of products to give away when the distribution begins.
But with Thanksgiving right around the corner, the Salvation Army is doing more than raising funds, food and toys.
Voss said the Michiana Christian Embassy is the venue for a Thanksgiving dinner, which is open to everyone, on Sunday, Nov. 23, from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m.
The Vosses said an overwhelming amount of community residents have already signed up to serve food during the event. Voss said other area churches who are having Thanksgiving dinners are also experiencing that many community members are willing to help out by serving food.