Red Kettle season kicks off at OV Mall | News, Sports, Jobs

TL Photo/CARRI GRAHAM Major Lewis Patrick talks to attendees as the Red Kettle kicks off Thursday at the Ohio Valley Mall.

ST. CLAIRSVILLE — The St. John Central Academy choir and band from Bridgeport High School played holiday music as Belmont County’s Salvation Army kicked off its annual Giving Tree and Red Kettle initiatives Thursday in Ohio Valley Mall.

For the first time since 2019, students returned to help launch the campaign. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, schools had not participated in the annual launch. Each school took turns playing holiday tunes such as “Jingle Bell Tears” and “Let it snow.”

Salvation Army Maj. Lewis Patrick said organizers hoped to raise $125,000 through this year’s Red Kettle campaign. Money raised through the initiative is used to help feed and clothe those in need throughout the year.

“As always, we have a huge need and want to make sure we get Christmas for children and families on Christmas morning. Every dollar, every penny donated goes to help not only during the Christmas period, but for the whole year”, he said. “We offer Christmas to approximately 600 families in our community. In addition to this, we distribute approximately 2,400 toys to children in our community who need them during the Christmas period.

The Salvation Army runs a 24/7 shelter that provides housing and food to those in need, some of whom are children, he said. A pantry is also available six days a week.

“I’ll tell you we’re doing amazing things in the community, but can I take credit for that? No. I’m saying you take credit for it, because it’s because of your support that we helps to do amazing things,” Patrick told those present. “You provide the ammunition we need to fight hunger, homelessness and things that are not of this world.”

Volunteers wearing red aprons and holding bells next to kettles will be stationed at various locations around the county, including Riesbeck’s, Kroger, Walmart, Sam’s Club, Big Lots, Boscov’s and mall entrances. There will be stations in St. Clairsville, Barnesville, Bridgeport, Shadyside and Martins Ferry.

A few volunteers were present when it kicked off – Joey Owens and Fred Conrad, both of whom have volunteered to help the program in the past. This is Owens’ second year helping, while Conrad has been a volunteer for about five years now. Both said they wanted to help bring good to people in the community, which is what The Salvation Army is all about.

“They do a lot of good and help a lot of people,” said Owens. “It feels good to make an effort to help others.”

Conrad said he likes to see the children’s faces light up when the volunteers ring the bells.

The Giving Tree initiative also kicked off on Thursday. Hundreds of names of children, ages 0-18, line the tree located in the central courtyard area of ​​the mall. Those interested in giving to a child in need this holiday season can choose a name tag on the tree, which includes information such as the child’s age and a desired gift.

Patrick said that by the end of the season, around 2,400 children’s names will adorn the tree. Some of the requests include toys, games, makeup, tools and fishing gear. The gifts will be distributed to the children’s families later next month.

Candi Noble-Greathouse, the mall’s marketing manager, said the outlet has a wonderful relationship with the Salvation Army and was happy to help kick off the campaigns.

A gift wrapping station is set up inside the former Zales jewelry store in the mall. Patrick said Salvation Army volunteers are wrapping gifts at no cost until Christmas Eve, although donations are being accepted and will go towards the organization’s efforts. The station is open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday to Saturday and from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday.

As always, mall manager George Diab donated the first dollar of the holiday season to the Red Kettle campaign on Thursday. He’s been doing it for over a decade and plans to continue the tradition.

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