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Salvation Army: Help us ‘rescue Christmas’ for families during difficult year

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Maj. Marion Durham says the Salvation Army in Marion County is collecting gifts for 1,000 children. Photo: Joe Byrnes, WMFE

In Ocala, at least, it’s time to start thinking about holiday giving.

The Salvation Army’s Red Kettle campaign is starting there, two weeks before the charity buckets make their appearance in Orlando.

Ocala’s Red Kettle kickoff usually involves a children’s choir and a brass band.

But not this year.

The church’s local leaders and a volunteer spoke without fanfare at the gazebo on the downtown square Friday.

Maj. Marion Durham says they’re asking the public to help “rescue Christmas” by donating money and children’s gifts from Angel Trees around town.

“We need people to adopt angels,” she said. “We need people to give to the Red Kettle so that in turn we can help families in an unprecedented time who’ve never been in need before who need help this holiday season.”

Volunteers with masks and hand sanitizer will stand with their kettles outside some stores starting Saturday and others later in the month.

The goal is $250,000.

The Salvation Army of Lake and Sumter County, meanwhile, has a goal of $350,000.

Lt. Chris Doborwicz says their kettle drive starts next weekend. The holiday provides half their funding for the year.

“Come June and July, we’re continuing to provide emergency financial assistance or lifesaving resources in the summer,” he said. “And we’re able to do that from the fundraising that we do in Christmas.”

And there’s an emphasis this year on the Virtual Red Kettle program.

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Joe Byrnes

About Joe Byrnes


Joe Byrnes came to WMFE/WMFV from the Ocala Star-Banner and The Gainesville Sun, where he worked as a reporter and editor for several years. Joe graduated from Loyola University in New Orleans and turned to journalism after teaching. He enjoys freshwater fishing and family gatherings.