Except for perhaps the familiar ring of Christmas music on the radio, there is no bigger sign that the holidays are here than red Salvation Army kettles outside local shops and grocery stores.
The Salvation Army of McHenry County began stationing bell ringers and red kettles in front of area Walgreens and J.C. Penneys this week and will be collecting donations at Jewels, Walmarts, and other stores after thanksgiving.
The Salvation Army hopes to raise $150,000 from McHenry County red kettle donations, with a total holiday fundraising goal of $425,000. The organization raises roughly half its annual budget during the two months before Christmas. Last year, the Salvation Army of McHenry County raised more than $400,000 during the holidays, according to Major Garry Lowder of the Salvation Army.
"I think [this year's goal] is attainable," Lowder said. "We have kettles all over the county. The problem is the fact that a lot of stores are asking us to wait until after the Thanksgiving holiday to bring the kettles out. We'll have a week and a half less days than we did last year."
The Salvation Army is looking for 3,000 volunteers to help with bell ringing this year, and people can take day, half-day or two-hour shifts. Lowder said whether you give your money or your time, donating to the Salvation Army is an organization worth supporting.
"We have always been able to help people without discrimination," Lowder said. "We give out our help to people no matter their religion or creed. And we are able to help them not only at Christmastime, but 365 days a year."
The Salvation Army of McHenry County also announced that it is taking application for Christmas assistance all this week and part of next week. Those in need of help with food, clothing or toys for the holidays can apply at the Salvation Army's Crystal Lake Location at 290 West Crystal Lake Ave. until Nov. 27.
For more information about Christmas assistance or becoming a volunteer for the Salvation Army call 815-455-2769 or visit www.salarmycl.org.