The Salvation Army in Canadian County is asking for the community’s help.
The Salvation Army in Canadian County is a social service agency located in El Reno that serves all of Canadian County. People in need are able to come to them for food, clothes from their clothing closet, and utilities and rent when funding is available, service center director Lois DeBerry said.
The Salvation Army serves by their county locations so if a Canadian County resident goes to a different county’s location then they’ll be referred to DeBerry.
The Red Kettle campaign, the Salvation Army’s largest fundraiser, is hosted each year. For Canadian County, it is the only fundraiser for the year.
“I don’t do any other kind of fundraising,” DeBerry said. “The money that we raise in our kettles is the money that we use throughout the year to help pay the utility bills and things, as well as grants that I write.”
DeBerry said they originally paid people to ring for them, but it was not benefitting Canadian County and meeting the needs of the people in it. They are now just volunteer-based to make sure all the money raised goes back to the county.
“Without community volunteers, we won’t be able to raise as much and in turn, we won’t be able to help as many families next year,” said Maegan Dunn, development marketing manager for the Salvation Army.
Since it is Canadian County location’s only fundraiser, the money raised is what supports their functions all year.
“The more we raise in there, the more we’re able to meet the needs of people that are in our county the following year,” DeBerry added.
The Red Kettle campaign began in 1891. It starts the day after Thanksgiving and ends on Christmas Eve. Volunteers ring Monday through Saturday, taking Sunday off for the day of worship since the Salvation Army is a religious organization, DeBerry said.
The Salvation Army also has the Forgotten Silver Bells Angel Tree at One Faith Boutique, 425 W. Main St.
Silver Bells is the name given to senior citizens who sign up for the Salvation Army’s Angel Tree Christmas assistance program. The Angel Tree program provides gifts, a food basket and a Bible for each of the families.
Although they are called Forgotten Angels, the gifts are designated to a specific senior in the county.
When items listed on the silver bells are bought, they are returned to One Faith Boutique so DeBerry can pick them up. They will then be wrapped and taken to the seniors to put under their Christmas trees.
“That just keeps Christmas and the love of the neighbors and the community,” DeBerry said. “And letting them feel that they are still an important aspect of everything, and in Jesus’s love, which is all of us. We just want to make sure that they get what they need.”
DeBerry said most senior citizens live on a very tight budget and aren’t able to just go out and buy things as they need them.
The Salvation Army also does Prison Ministries, in which they play a role in prison and rehabilitation and crime prevention. The Salvation Army will offer to help someone who is incarcerated and the person who is the guardian of the children at the time can either accept or deny the help.
The services of Prison Ministries includes “Bible correspondence courses, prerelease job-training programs, employment opportunities in cooperation parole personnel, material aid, and spiritual guidance to both prisoners and their families,” according to www.salavationarmyusa.org.
The Salvation Army of Canadian County also takes gift baskets to any low-income senior citizen homes in the county each year. They are either handed out door-to-door or brought to a Christmas party to pass out if the facility hosts one.
The Salvation Army also does nursing home visits to take stockings to all the nursing homes in Canadian County.
“We do so much at Christmas it’s crazy,” DeBerry said. “It’s just about meeting the needs of everyone, at least our seniors, especially at Christmas time, but we do help families as well throughout the whole year.”
DeBerry added that they reach out specifically to senior citizens because their pride sometimes gets in the way of them asking for help so they want to make sure they’re taken care of. She also said that the majority of their clients are families.
“We do whatever we can to meet the need,” DeBerry said. “That’s why the Red Kettle campaign is so important to be able to help all the people in our county.”
The Salvation Army in Canadian County is located at 201 S. Bickford in El Reno. For more information on how to help or if you need help, call 295-2343 or visit www.salvationarmyokcac.org/canadiancounty.