Commentary and Opinion

MORRIS: Keep the pot boiling for neighbors in need

December 14, 2013

MorrisIt’s pretty tough to miss those Salvation Army red kettles as you walk into many retail locations this time of year. If you’re preoccupied and don’t take notice, the ringing of the bells and the cheerful greeting from the volunteers (whether you put any money in or not) will pull you into the moment. I always try to put a few dollars in each kettle as I walk in the store.

The idea to use a kettle to collect donations, or really a pot back in the day, dates back to the late 1800s. The idea was to raise enough money to see that needy people were properly fed at Christmas. A sign was placed nearby that read—Keep the Pot Boiling.

The menu of services provided by The Salvation Army has grown exponentially over the years. And, as is true with most service organizations, the need for the organization’s services exists all year long. But it’s from around Thanksgiving through the end of the year that most folks take notice.

Nationally, about 30 million Americans receive assistance from The Salvation Army each year through a broad range of social services. They provide food for the hungry, relief for disaster victims, assistance for the disabled, and outreach to the elderly and ill, clothing and shelter to the homeless, and opportunities for underprivileged children.

The Salvation Army is a religious organization, so, in addition to serving a humanitarian role and tending to physical needs, spiritual betterment is an important part of the program.

When many donors give money to worthy organizations, like The Salvation Army, they want to know their money is used to help folks nearby. While you can’t always see it, hunger resides just down the street from all of us. The lack of basic needs knows no boundaries. People close by are hurting and need our help.

The Indiana division of The Salvation Army is very active here and throughout the state. An army of volunteers wakes up each day to assist the homeless, the addicted, the poor and afflicted, and the elderly and less fortunate youth of our community.

The Salvation Army also provides drug and alcohol treatment and rehabilitation for men and women battling substance abuse and chemical dependency. There’s help for abused women and children at their most vulnerable time. Space allows me only to scratch the surface of the complete menu of services provided by this fine organization.

WIBC-FM 93.1 just wrapped up its 19th annual Radiothon to benefit The Salvation Army, and it was a record-breaker. In two days, WIBC collected $250,000. What an amazing result! That kind of money translates to about 5,000 nights of shelter and close to 50,000 meals for the hungry. So, hats off to the folks at WIBC, Emmis Communications Corp., the corporate sponsors and all those listeners who donated time and money.

I tuned in at various times during the fundraiser and found the stories inspirational of how The Salvation Army helps so many people in so many different ways. In fact, every time I’ve passed a red kettle since then, I’ve dug a little deeper because I know my money will be used in a productive manner.

Another media partner of The Salvation Army is WISH-TV Channel 8. For 13 years, WISH has partnered with The Salvation Army during the Christmas season to collect toys and gifts for less fortunate children. Last year, more than 2,200 children received toys, and the goal each year is to provide more. WISH-TV set up collection dates at the Indianapolis Zoo and White River Gardens gift shops, at Lucas Oil Stadium before a Colts game, and at various sponsor company locations.

Yet, even with all this good will and fundraising success, donations are running behind in The Salvation Army’s Red Kettle Christmas campaign. The campaign kicked off Nov. 13 with a goal of raising $3.2 million, and at press time the campaign is less than halfway there. The money raised will go toward supporting Salvation Army programs and services right here in central Indiana.

So, if you are so moved, please consider digging a little deeper in your pocket or purse and dropping a few more dollars in one of those red kettles the next time you pass by. You can also donate online at savationarmyindiana.org.

Thanks for your compassion and generosity now and all year long.•

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Morris is publisher of IBJ. His column appears every other week. To comment on this column, send e-mail to gmorris@ibj.com.

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