Anderson County donors blew the top of the Salvation Army’s 2021 Red Kettle campaign, donating approximately $48,000 in one month. The total exceeds last year’s high of $36,000 by $12,000 and allows the Palestinian army’s service unit to significantly expand relief services.
The First Resource Center on North Sycamore Street is now expanding assistance to area residents through its utility bill program, temporary housing for families displaced by fires, and support for Rock Bottom Ranch programs.
The fundraising campaign began on Black Friday and involved more than 120 volunteers who rang the bell for a total of 884 hours at Walmart, Lowe’s, Kroger and Brookshires seven days a week until Christmas Eve. Many volunteers signed up independently for the two-hour shifts, while other volunteers who helped were also from the David Barnard State Farm agency, Bois D’Arc Baptist Church, First Church baptist and the evangelical temple.
Steve Thomas, divisional director of service extension for the Salvation Army, said this year’s Anderson County campaign was one of the most successful in the state.
“The Red Kettle campaign in November and December of last year produced one of the best campaign totals of any Salvation Army service unit in the state of Texas,” Thomas said. “Through this community support, our service unit in Palestine is expanding its services to include emergency housing, increased support for utility bills, and direct support for those going through the Christian Transitional Houses program. of Rock Bottom Ranch.”
Thomas explained that Rock Bottom Ranch’s mission aligns with that of the Salvation Army.
“The Rock Bottom Ranch program is for women who are at a critical crossroads in their lives and who need Christ-centered transformation,” Thomas said. “This program aligns with our Salvation Army mission statement: ‘To preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and meet human need in His name without discrimination.'”
FRC purchases $4,000 worth of food from the East Texas Food Bank to feed an average of 280 families per month. The nonprofit organization also sponsors a monthly senior food box and monthly produce delivery that is available to everyone in Anderson County.
FRC relies on a core of volunteers who give more than 600 hours of service per year. The nonprofit organization receives funding for its own overhead such as utilities and rent from grants and other private donations.
FRC also participates in the Feed America program to recover food donated by Walmart, Brookshires and Kroger to supplement staple foods purchased from the East Texas Food Bank.
Kurt Sohn is the new president of the Salvation Army’s Palestine Service Unit. He also continues to lead the board of the First Resource Center, which he established in 2019. Sohn said the FRC uses almost all of Red Kettle’s donations to meet the needs of Anderson County.
“Ninety-seven percent of everything collected is available for use in the community,” he said.
Additional funds from the successful Red Kettle 2021 campaign are already providing expanded services. The Salvation Army temporarily housed a family displaced by a fire earlier this year and is offering assistance to more residents who need help paying their electricity bills.
“The program is already underway,” Sohn said. “We are working with the local fire department and meeting the needs of people who have no one to stay with, the Salvation Army can now provide resources.”
FRC has a new mailing address, which is now shared and paid for by the Palestine Service Unit. The address is PO Box 4366, Palestine, Texas, 75802.
For more information on FRC, visit their Facebook page. Information about the Salvation Army is available at www.salvationarmyusa.org/usn/.