OUR OPINION: Salvation Army needs a generous response

The Salvation Army’s iconic bellringers have become a symbol of seasonal charitable appeals across the United States and around the world, and with every season its needs increase as the number of people down on their luck and struggling to get by and recover grows.

Tupelo has been fortunate enough to have been home to a Salvation Army church and its various helping ministries for more than 40 years, a need perceived by the late community leader Jim Ingram, Sr., and others while on the Mississippi Gulf Coast after Hurricane Camille in 1969, where the SA was active in relief.

The Salvation Army depends heavily on volunteers from the larger community in raising money, in relief efforts, and in sustaining its work with the homeless at its lodge in Tupelo, including food ministries.

Much of the budget for the larger ministry beyond any seasonal needs is raised during the Christmas bellringing season.

The Daily Journal’s Friday edition featured a page 1 article about the bellringers. The picture with the story showed V.M. Cleveland and Claude Hartley, both active in civic work, ringing bells for the kettle drive in front a Walmart Store.

Hartley and Cleveland, unfortunately, are among a declining number of volunteers who work the bells without pay.

If there aren’t enough volunteers the Salvation Army pays bellringers.

Some businesses encourage employees to participate and allow them to schedule time raising money. That commitment usually includes corporate executives.

That spirit of volunteerism and generosity provides the civic energy for Salvation Army and shines a brighter light on its extraordinary work.

Dawn Magers, a vice president of operations at Franklin Collection, is among her company’s bellringers and Angel Tree participants. Angle Tree provides Christmas gifts for hundreds of identified children in need and is wholly dependent on the volunteer/private sector to fulfill commitments.

Only days remain in the Salvation Army’s 2013 appeal, but inquiries are always welcome about volunteer activities and importantly people interested in making a donation – tax deductible – to the cause.

Magers, commenting for the Riley Manning article about SA, said, “It’s a really refreshing thing to do. It opens your eyes and softens your heart.”

Inquiries can be made by calling (662) 842-9222.