VIENNA - To mark the beginning of the Christmas holiday season, the Salvation Army of Parkersburg Corps kicked off its traditional seasonal campaigns Friday.
In front of the Belk store in Grand Central Mall, volunteers set up the first official Angel Tree of the year to mark the first time the department store has partnered with the Salvation Army.
"I was very excited to learn we would have the opportunity to work with the Salvation Army this year," said Ammie Rasmussen, store manager. "I think it is fantastic, what they do for the community and I am glad we can help."
David Witt of Parkersburg rings the bell for the Salvation Army of Parkersburg’s red kettle campaign, which kicked off Friday at Belk at the Grand Central Mall. The Angel Tree campaign, where people can “adopt” a child in need for Christmas, also began Friday. (Photo by Jolene Craig)
Lt. Mechelle Henry with the corps said more than 450 families have already registered for roughly 980 children to have Christmas through the generosity of those who "adopt" angels from the trees.
Last year the organization aided more than 1,000 families, roughly 4,000 children, in its six-county coverage area.
"We started accepting applications last month and will likely continue through November," she said. "We will not turn away anyone with genuine need."
People can adopt these angels by calling the Salvation Army's Fifth Street office or pulling a tag off of one of the many Angel Trees set up at Belk, Sears and The Rage in the mall as well as both Wal-Mart and Kmart locations, Shoney's, Coldwater Creek and the Cracker Barrel in Mineral Wells, the YMCA on 30th Street, Family Carpet, VFW Post 1212 and several other businesses.
There are toy dropoff locations in businesses scattered throughout the area, Henry said.
The Angel Tree program is more than 100 years old.
Toys donated through this program will be handed out to parents on Dec. 20.
Along with the Angel Trees, the annual red kettle drive also began Friday with bellringers manning the traditional crimson kettles outside stores.
The goal for this year's red kettle drive is $175,000.
Last year's drive netted $174,000, while this summer's Christmas in July red kettle drive brought in $4,000.