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Welcome back, red kettles!

Red kettles began appearing around the community on Friday, marking the official start to the 2019 Salvation Army bell-ringing campaign.

This year, Salvation Army officials have set a goal of $160,415 to be raised for its annual Christmas campaign. Of that amount, they are hoping to realize $81,000 from the kettles through Christmas Eve.

The campaign was kicked off at Neiman’s Family Market on Friday by a Salvation Army regular, Tim Hart. Anyone who has visited Neimans during the holiday season probably has run into Hart at the door, ringing his bell. Hart’s wide smile and friendly personality makes him a popular ambassador for the red kettle campaign this time of year.

This year, red kettles and bell-ringers will be found at Big Lots, Walgreen’s, JC Penney, Save-A-Lot, the Alpena Mall, Perch’s IGA, Fitzpatrick Hardware, Tractor Supply, U.S. Post Office, Neiman’s, and, after Thanksgiving, Walmart.

Funds raised from the campaign will be used to help supply needy families of the region with a holiday food basket and gifts for children.

And, today at Walmart, a Christmas toy drive for the Salvation Army will be established. Area residents who would like to drop off new toys for children can do so at the store’s collection point from now until December.

“Every year, we are honored to partner with this generous community in order to bring joy to area children Christmas morning,” said Capt. Amy Cedervall of the Salvation Army. “The public’s generosity helps the Salvation Army provide about 300 children with Christmas toys they would not receive otherwise.”

This year, when you hear the ring of a Salvation Army bell, dig deep and give generously.

(THE ALPENA NEWS)