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Salvation Army seeking support
SUSAN THACKER Great Bend Tribune Alva McHenry, assistant manager at the local Salvation Army Thrift Store, poses with a Red Kettle inside the store. Volunteers are needed to help with the 2023 Red Kettle Campaign, which gets underway next week.

Red Kettles representing the Salvation Army will start appearing in Great Bend this week, according to Jennifer Vest, Barton County Outreach Coordinator at The Salvation Army, Great Bend.

The first ones will appear Saturday, Nov. 18, at Walmart and they will be at both Dillons stores the day after Thanksgiving.

The campaign supports all of Barton County by providing basic needs to Kansans seeking aid, year-round. Now that the holidays are approaching, the Salvation Army is asking for help from local residents through its annual Red Kettle Program, which kicks off during the halftime of the Dallas Cowboys Thanksgiving Day football game against the Washington Commanders.

Nationwide, the Salvation Army relies on money raised during the holiday season – in coins, dollars and checks and credit card gifts – to serve nearly 30 million people annually in more than 5,000 communities nationwide, according to The Salvation Army USA. Money raised in the Red Kettles is used in the communities where it was collected.

From its humble beginnings as a local San Francisco fundraiser featuring a single pot in 1891, the Red Kettle Campaign has grown into one of the most recognizable and important charitable campaigns in the United States. Each year, more than 25,000 Salvation Army volunteers spread throughout the country from Thanksgiving to Christmas Eve to ring bells and solicit spare change and other donations from holiday shoppers.

What they do

The small team at the local Salvation Army store consists of several volunteers and employees who all serve our most vulnerable neighbors daily, connecting them with emergency financial assistance, groceries, disaster relief, and other resources, Vest said.

“During the last six years, this team has served over 1,650 individuals, with 783 of them being children,” Vest reported. “This and other programs, like the summer fan drive and back to school supplies, add hope and joy to clients’ lives during times of extreme stress.” 

The local thrift store serves a variety of crucial roles. Shoppers can find items like clothing, shoes, home decor and small appliances. Behind the scenes, local part-time employees Bruce Hutchinson and Don Mitchell repair damaged electronics, giving these items new life and new purpose serving those who need it the most. This also provides an easy way for community members to part with unneeded items in a sustainable and environmentally friendly manner.

“Because of the generosity of community members, the thrift store is also able to provide in-kind donations to the most vulnerable members of the community. Providing emergency access to clothing and similar goods where it is most needed to bring a deserved and essential sense of dignity without discrimination,” Vest noted.

“These programs and continual care for the Barton County community are only made possible through generous donations and dedicated volunteers. The more the community becomes involved with The Salvation Army, the greater impact it can have in our community. Call or visit to learn more about our efforts to provide hope, dignity, and respect to those in need.”

The Great Bend store is located at 2545 10th St, and can be reached at 620-792-4299.

What is the Salvation Army?

The Salvation Army is an international Christian organization whose mission is to meet human needs without discrimination. It is the largest, non-governmental, social services provider In the United States. 

In 2021, the Kansas and Western Missouri Division served 241,900 meals, offered 107,000 nights of safe lodging, and provided services to 278,287 different individuals. These services are administered through community thrift stores and Red Shield Centers across the Division with one such location being The Salvation Army Thrift Store in Great Bend.