PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — The annual Salvation Army Tree of Lights Campaign is starting ahead of schedule in November.
The organization has been helping Central Illinois families for more than 130 years and this year could prove to be different because of the pandemic. The organization is starting earlier this year to meet the growing need.
The campaign is geared to bring presents to kids and meals to those in need. Major Jesse Collins is hopeful for a successful year and said community support is everything.
“I’m very excited for this year, the donors and our supporters carried us through this summer just fine. I believe Peoria is a very unselfish community and they have come through for us every year,” said Collins.
Both Collins and Peoria Development Director Kathy Anderson agree there will be challenges with ringing the bells.
“It’s hard to tell right now because every week it seems like there’s something different that we find out. We are just gonna play it by ear and be ready to go whether we have as many kettles as we had last year or not,” said Anderson.
“We anticipate that’s going to be a difficult fundraising tool, however, many stores said that they would let us ring,” said Collins.
Volunteers said whether you give online or in-person, you can help put a smile on kids’ faces this Christmas.
“We put it toward people that need toys and food at Christmas time, and then the rest of it helps us to fund the rest of our services throughout the year,” said Collins.
“It’s been very humbling over the last six months and we feel like this fall we are going to see a 33 percent increase in people that need help over last year,” said Anderson.
Anderson said the kickoff will be an in-person event outside of North Woods Mall in Peoria.
“We’re going to have our tree of lights chairs and Major Jesse who’s our tri-county commander there. And we’ll have our Salvation Army band as well. We will be practicing social distancing and asking everyone to wear a mask,” said Anderson.
You can donate by going to the non-profit’s website.
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