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Salvation Army adapts annual Red Kettle campaign

The Salvation Army of Parkersburg is displaying some of its red kettles — now painted in new ways — at the Grand Central Mall food court through Saturday to help raise money for its Christmas programs. (Photo by Jenna Pierson)

VIENNA — Some of the iconic red kettles of the Salvation Army of Parkersburg have acquired a new look this week and will be on display through Saturday at the Grand Central Mall.

“This year, the need is greater than ever, and we need to think of new ways to involve the community in order to meet those needs,” said Major Patrick Richmond, Commanding Officer of The Salvation Army of Parkersburg.

Along with his wife, Major Carey Richmond, and their staff, the organization meets the needs of the Parkersburg community year-round through social services, emergency shelter and its soup kitchen which served 42,000 meals last year.

The pandemic has limited the organization’s ability to fundraise in its traditional fashion with bellringers outside of stores. The Salvation Army needed to find new ways to maximize the limited amount of time the red kettle would be available to the public.

Taking a cue from another Salvation Army command, the Richmonds considered having a few of their red metal kettles painted by local artists as a fundraiser. They reached out to MJ Ayson-Lemon at The Watering Can Art Studio to see if she would be interested in helping.

The Salvation Army of Parkersburg is displaying some of its red kettles — now painted in new ways — at the Grand Central Mall food court through Saturday to help raise money for its Christmas programs. (Photo by Jenna Pierson)

“As small business owners and community outreach organizations, I believe that we are the heart of our community and am thrilled to share this holiday experience with The Salvation Army and our community,” said Ayson-Lemon.

She quickly had 12 local businesses ready and willing to sponsor their kettles to be painted for the event. Grand Central Mall offered to have them displayed at the Canvas Project.

“Grand Central Mall is honored to participate in this amazing, uplifting community effort,” said mall General Manager Jody Hopkins.

The display began Tuesday and runs through Saturday at the Canvas Project located adjacent to the mall’s food court. Community members are encouraged to vote for their favorite kettle with their donations.

Donations can be in the form of cash or check, and a new option to pay with a credit card is available through the virtual kettle.

After the event, the kettles will be on display at their sponsored business to raise additional funds and awareness for The Salvation Army and its services.

This year, the Salvation Army of Parkersburg hopes to raise $150,000 in its Christmas fundraising efforts.

The organization believes this event will go a long way to making this season a success.

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