Angel Giving Tree is Online! Adopt Your Angel Today

Thursday, November 4, 2010

This week is the official launch of The Salvation Army and JCPenney’s annual Angel Giving Tree online Christmas gift drive at jcp.com/angel!

Now you can play Santa for children and seniors in need by adopting these “angels” and buying presents from their wish lists.

Christmas shopping for family and loved ones is a daunting holiday task for almost everyone, but it’s especially so for those who don’t have the financial means to buy gifts. Fortunately, Angel Giving Tree online provides them peace of mind when generous supporters like you lend a helping hand.

Just ask Yolanda Wheeler, a blind, single mother from Jackson, MI raising two children and her teenage sister. Her kids will have gifts this year thanks to Angel Giving Tree.

To help other families like Yolanda’s just go to jcp.com/angel to adopt someone today. You can even choose an angel in your area by searching by zip code or find one according to age and gender. You’ll also be able to find gift drop-off locations or an address to mail your presents for free thanks to UPS.

There are more than 100,000 kids and seniors across the country waiting to be adopted. With your help, you can make sure they have some very-much needed presents waiting for them under the tree when they wake up on Christmas morning.

Hurry! The deadline for adopting and shopping is December 10.

To read the our official press release, click here.

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Bell Ringers – From Festive to…Funky?

Thursday, October 28, 2010

I know it’s not even Halloween yet, but I can’t wait to see Salvation Army Red Kettles on street corners and outside store fronts and to hear the accompanying ring of hand bells.

Part of my anticipation has to do with the festiveness wrapped up in this tradition. For me, that familiar scene triggers the comforting realization that the holidays are here.

Most of my eagerness though has to do with the people. I can’t help but appreciate and respect bell ringers who have obviously taken time out of their schedule to stand on sidewalks and ring their hearts (or hands?) out in order help those in need.

My favorite is when I see a bell ringer get creative and incorporate their talents, usually singing or playing an instrument. Sure, it kicks up the “fun factor,” but mostly I love how a person’s devotion to their cause can inspire them to use their imagination and inspire others in return. With that in mind, you’ll understand my excitement when I came across this video this morning from The Salvation Army’s Northern Division (serving Minnesota and North Dakota):

I’ve seen carolers, and I’ve seen musicians, but rappers? That’s a first!

Apparently the “Salvation Souljas” made the music video to recruit more volunteer bell ringers, so I don’t know if they actually rhyme and dance when they’re manning the Kettles.

But if we happen to see an increase in funky, flowing bell ringers this season, now we know where the trend started!

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Kickin’ Off This Year’s Red Kettle Campaign Is…

Monday, October 25, 2010

The wait is over! Our National Advisory Board Chair Charlotte Jones Anderson made the announcement on ESPN’s Monday Night Football this evening…

Three-time Grammy Award winner Keith Urban has been named the featured performer for this year’s Salvation Army’s Kettle Kickoff! That means you get to watch him rock out during the Dallas Cowboys Thanksgiving Day game halftime show on November 25 aired on FOX. (Read our official press release here)

But instead of watching from your couch, how would you like to catch all the action live at Cowboys Stadium?

As a part of the Kettle Kickoff promotion, fans will have an opportunity to win an expense-paid trip to the game to see Keith’s performance and watch Dallas take on last year’s Super Bowl champs, the New Orleans Saints. Just signup to be an Online Red Kettle virtual bell ringer at www.onlineredkettle.org, and the fans who collect the most donations for people in need have a chance to win! You can checkout rules and details at www.onlineredkettle.org, but the contest has started and there’s no time to waste, so we’re including key info below as well.

May the best virtual bell ringer win!

Eligibilty: The Contest is open to legal residents of the United States who are 18 years of age or older, residing in one of the 50 United States or the District of Columbia. Employees, soldiers and officers affiliated with The Salvation Army and their family members are eligible to participate.

Contest Time Period: The Contest runs from October 25, 2010 through Sunday, November 21, 2010 at 12 noon ET.

How to Sign Up: Participants can sign up for individual Online Red Kettles on the Internet at www.onlineredkettle.org and following the directions provided.

Prize Package: The prize package includes:

* Two game tickets to the November 25, 2010, Thanksgiving Day game between the Dallas Cowboys and New Orleans Saints at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, TX

* Two field-level passes to the Keith Urban half-time performance

* One-night hotel stay for two persons at the Gaylord Hotel & Convention Center in Dallas in a single room with two queen-sized beds

* Two round-trip coach-class airline tickets from U.S. destinations (excluding U.S. territories and outlying areas) on a major commercial carrier, subject to seat availability

Winner: The participant whose individual Online Red Kettle has the highest monetary total of donations as of November 21, 2010 at 12 noon ET, will be declared the winner.

Tie-Breaker: In the event that more than one kettle has the exact same total, the person whose kettle was registered in the Online Red Kettle system first will be declared the winner.

Notification: The winner will be notified via the e-mail address they used to register their individual Online Red Kettle.

General Conditions: No purchase necessary.
Again, for more contest details please visit www.OnlineRedKettle.org or our website at www.salvationarmyusa.org.

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Tonight: Kettle Kickoff Talent Revealed!

Monday, October 25, 2010

We can hardly wait to announce who will be this year’s Salvation Army Kettle Kick-Off musical talent!

Thankfully, we only have to wait just a little bit longer before the big surprise is revealed tonight, Monday Oct. 25, on ESPN’s Monday night football.

As in previous years, the chart-topping act will perform live during the nationally televised Dallas Cowboys’ Thanksgiving Day halftime show.

Past Kettle Kick-Off celebrities have included Daughtry, the Jonas Brothers, Carrie Underwood, LeAnn Rimes, Toby Keith, and Destiny’s Child, among others.

So, who do you think will join their ranks in Kettle-Kick Off tradition?

Feel free to leave your guesses, and tune in to ESPN tonight to see if you’re right!

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Got Weekend Plans? Make a Difference

Friday, October 22, 2010

Saturday, October 23 is “Make a Difference Day,” the nation’s largest single day of volunteerism according to USA Weekend magazine. One of the most recognized faces out there promoting the event is NBA Star Shaquille O’Neal. He’s a stellar athlete, reality TV entertainer, father, funny-man and…lifelong volunteer.

In a feature article Shaq attributed his personal emphasis on volunteering to the examples set by his parents. He even mentions one of the childhood experiences that had the most impact on him was he and his dad filling up an entire moving truck with blankets and clothes and driving it all down to a Salvation Army homeless shelter.

What are you doing Saturday? Maybe there’s a way you can join with the 3 million other Americans who will be working to make a difference. If you’re short on ideas, contact your local Salvation Army. They may be in need of food for their feeding kitchens, administrative help for holiday events, or searching for Christmas Red Kettle bell ringers. And just like Shaq said, it could be a great opportunity to teach your kids about giving back, even if you’re just dropping off some clothes to our Family Thrift Stores.

And volunteers are not just a help to people in need – they’re a huge help to charities who have also been feeling the pinch in the sluggish economy. We recently reported that the nation’s biggest charities, including ourselves, have seen an overall decline in giving as compared to last year. Another study found that for financial reasons more than a third of donors plan to cut back their giving for the remainder of the year, but they plan to show their support in other ways.

So especially when things are tight, it’s our volunteers who really help us make a difference by stretching our resources and services so that we reach as many people in need as possible! In whatever way you give back, thanks for making a difference. Thanks for helping The Salvation Army “do the most good.”

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LIVE Video Tonight – Retirement Ceremony for Salvation Army National Leaders

Friday, October 22, 2010

The Salvation Army is about to say goodbye to a very important pair at the end of this month – our national leaders Commissioners Israel and Eva Gaither!

They’re officially retiring following a four year assignment as National Commander and National President of Women’s Ministries, not to mention 40 dedicated years of Salvation Army service around the world.

Tonight, October 22 at 7:25pm EST, the Gaithers will be celebrating their retirement with a ceremony held at the Centennial Memorial Temple in NYC. Can’t make it to New York to take part in the festivities?

We’ve got you covered –the event will be streaming on live video at www.sallytube.org. Tune in tonight and help us wish farewell to our fearless leaders!

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Donations to Nation’s Biggest Charities Drop 11%

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

A new report shows that donations to the nation’s 400 biggest charities dropped 11% last year, the most significant decline in the 20 years it’s been tracked. Ranked #2 on the list, The Salvation Army was no exception to the decrease having seen an 8.4% cut in donations.

The effects of our country’s economic recession have put charities in a sort of Catch-22. More people are in need and the demand for assistance increases, but fewer resources are available to meet this demand.

We would like to point out though, that even though our total charitable donations fell during 2009, generous givers like you still contributed a record amount to our Christmas Red Kettles. Every little penny counts in our mission to indiscriminately meet human need, so thank you for digging deep!

As the holiday season approaches yet again, please consider how you might be able to help The Salvation Army serve others during this time of overwhelming need. Like the rest of the population, we aren’t immune to the economic hardships, but we are committed to “doing the most good” in all circumstances.

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Couch Potatoes They’re Not

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Who said there’s nothing good on TV these days? A reality show is the surprising inspiration for the latest Salvation Army initiative in Miami.

In the style of NBC’s “Biggest Loser,” men from The Salvation Army’s Adult Rehabilitation Center (ARC) in Miami are competing to drop some serious pounds. As the ARC program helps them control their addictions, the friendly competition helps them gain control of their overall physical health!

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Standing Up to Cyber Bullies

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

It used to be that bullies could only flex their muscle during school hours, and the ring of the school bell released would-be victims to the safety of their homes, removed from conflict.

But today, technology contributes to cyber bullies having the 24/7 ability to expose hateful, personal or humiliating attacks before a virtual public platform, making the threat nearly impossible to get away from.

Tragically, as mourned by recent news headlines, several bright and talented young victims of cyber bullying have felt that the only true escape was to take their own lives.

What resources are available to help protect kids and young adults from the dangers of cyber bullying?

Earlier this year The Salvation Army partnered with Enough is Enough (EIE), the nationally leading organization in making the internet safer for children and families, to launch the Internet Safety 101 Program. It offers educational materials and online tools at www.internetsafety101.org to help adults and kids guard themselves from online dangers.

EIE President Donna Rice Hughes stated in an op-ed that 42% of kids have been bullied while online. That’s 42% too many.

Join with The Salvation Army in saying, “Enough is enough!” Visit www.internetsafety101.org or EIE’s website www.enough.org today.

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Officers are After-School Mentors in Eastside

Monday, October 18, 2010

More than 28 million kids have parents who work outside the home, and (Source: US Dept. of Labor) as many as 15 million kids have no place to go after school (Source: U.S. Census)

The hours between 3 and 6pm, when children generally get out of school and their parents get off of work, is when juvenile crime is most likely to occur. Law enforcement considers these hours a “danger zone.”

In the economically depressed Eastside community of St. Paul, Minnesota, The Salvation Army’s Eastside After-School program offers children a safe place to learn and play away from negative influence like drugs and gangs, while parents have peace of mind knowing their children are not on the streets when they’re still at work.

As a part of program’s homework help and tutoring sessions, local police officers serve as volunteers, helping provide positive influences and building relationships within the community.

Officer Robert Merrill has been a part of the program since 2008, spending a few hours every week helping young kids with their math, reading and writing assignments or whatever subject matter needs attention.

“The kids get to see police officers in an environment where they’re not dealing with a confrontational situation,” he said. “They see the more humane side of us. A lot of times their impression of law enforcement comes from them seeing us hauling people to jail and putting them into handcuffs. When kids and families see us [volunteering in their community], people might have a more positive view of our profession.”

For the officers, the learning process is reciprocal. Officer Merrill shared, “For me it’s allowed more insight into these kids’ lives than I’d normally have. They’re great kids, but they have a lot of struggles. We get to spend one-on-one time with them and they’ll tell you what’s going on in their lives outside of school. If we can offer them advice, steer them in the right direction, or help that stewarding of the theme of being able to helps and assist people, that the biggest reward I get out of it.”

The relationships and insight Officer Merrill’s gained has also translated outside of the classroom. Many officers unfortunately have had to deal with the same kids not only as students but also as crime victims. But, thanks to the foundation of trust that has begun to develop as a result of their interactions in the classroom, the children feel safer, more comfortable, and are more likely to cooperate with Merrill and other officers during times of crisis.

Regarding The Salvation Army’s Eastside After-School Program, Officer Merrill summed up, “There are not many programs like this around and certainly not in the neighborhoods of this city. It’s a program that will show [the kids] their education is important and that will hopefully lead to them being a proud member of society and keep them away from negative influences like gangs and crime. It’s a great program, and I’m glad to be a part of it.”

The Salvation Army thanks Officer Merrill and our other law enforcement volunteers for their invaluable investment of time into the youth of St. Paul and our Salvation Army programs.

How do after-school programs play a role in the life of you and your children? Visit www.salvationarmyusa.org to visit our poll question on this topic. Hurry, today is the last day to answer before a new question is featured tomorrow!

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