For Salvation Army soldiers like Jacqueline Skiba of Alpena, giving is important year-round. That is part of the reason she is working full-time this holiday season to collect money for the organization by ringing her bell and standing with a red kettle outside local businesses.
Skiba said the red kettle workers began their service on Nov. 12 and will continue to collect funds Monday-Saturday until Christmas. She said her work is important to her because she feels she has been called to serve.
"When I serve the Lord, I serve people in need," she said.
Skiba works from morning to evening in the harsh winter weather, but she said when she gets cold, she thinks of those who are in need.
"Of course you have to layer (clothing), but when I start to get cold, I think about homeless people," she said. "Need knows no season."
Money collected during the red kettle drive funds social service programs at the Salvation Army like emergency financial assistance, youth and adult programs and music programs. Last year, the organization collected $72,000 from the fundraiser that went toward a $158,000 budget. Maj. Joan Stoker of the Salvation Army Alpena Corps said 40 percent of the organization's funding must come from the annual drive.
"There's somebody out there that will depend on what's in that kettle in February when their heat is going to be shut off because somebody in the family got laid off or broke their leg ... Another kettle makes it possible for a boy or girl to be involved in our youth programs who wouldn't ordinarily be able to come because we provide (free) transportation," Stoker said. "We do depend on it fairly heavily."
The red kettle headquarters is located in the Alpena Mall where people can go to choose a card from the angel tree and give a gift to a child for the holidays. Other red kettle workers are posted around town at local businesses like Walmart, Walgreens, Big Lots, Neiman's Family Market, Kmart, the post office and Perch's IGA.
The red kettle drive began in 1891 in San Francisco, Calif., and spread nationwide eight years later. According to the Salvation Army website, kettles are now used all over the world to bring in funding for the organization.
Erika Fifelski can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 358-5688.