The Pulaski County Salvation Army "kicked off" its Tree of Lights Campaign on Thursday, signifying the beginning of the organization's goal to raise $75,000.
Longtime radio host Gary Khehans of KJPW was selected as this year's honorary chair person and kicked the traditional football, symbolizing the beginning of the bell-ringing Christmas donation season.
At the meeting following the Kick-Off, co-chairperson Gary Porter told board members that he thinks more people in the county will need the help of the Salvation Army this yearis greater than considering the August flood, sequestration, and the government shutdown plaguing the local economy this year.
"The need for our help is only increasing," Porter said.
Last year, Pulaski County Salvation Army raised more than $80,000 and distributed 944 Christmas baskets for Good Samaritan Resource Center. The local Salvation Army provided more than $13,948 in food purchases locally, which fed more than 2,700 people.
"Last year, we fed more people than there are in some towns we have [in Pulaski County]," Good Samaritan Emergency Services Coordinator Vicki Hurlbutt said.
Porter said he expects to give away more than 900 baskets again this year.
The Tree of Lights Campaign raises funds through volunteer bell-ringing, which provides capital for the Pulaski County Service Unit to disperse to people in need with emergency food, shelter, utility assistance, health care and clothing.
The Tree of Lights Campaign also provides gifts to nursing homes in Pulaski County. Last year, the Nursing Home Christmas Program provided gifts for more than 400 people.
Bell ringing will begin Dec. 6 at Price Cutter in Waynesville and at Walmart in St. Robert. Bell ringing will also take place in Crocker, Dixon, and Richland.
So far, 243 of the 500 bell-ringing volunteer time slots have been taken. To find out more information about how to volunteer and donate to Pulaski County Salvation army, visit pulaskicountysalvationarmy.com.