Red kettle bell ringers

The Salvation Army in Alpena has begun its annual Christmas drive which is used to help provide food and gifts for those in need in the Alpena area. Friday the “bell-ringers” positioned themselves outside of 10 local businesses and will be collecting funds through the Red Kettle Christmas Campaign, which will then be used to buy gifts or food for holidays meals.

Major Craig Stoker said the Salvation Army has set a goal to collect $157,500. He said last year the goal of $166,009 was narrowly missed by about $6,000, but as always the community rallied behind the fundraising effort to make sure those with little money could enjoy the holiday.

“The support from the community is wonderful. Anytime we express a need it always comes through,” Stoker said. “All the funds we raise stay in the local community. That is how it is nationwide. It is all used here to help local families.”

Stoker said even the schools in the area are offering support. He said Thunder Bay Junior High school collected more than 6,000 boxes or cans of non-perishable food, and Besser School added another 1,000 to the pot. He said the items collected, or purchased through the cash donations, as used to make food baskets and toys for children. He said any funds that are leftover are used to help those in need after the holidays conclude.

“We will use the balance of it through the year, and help people who need emergency assistance,” Stoker said. “There is always a great need and we want to do everything we can do to help the families.”

People wishing to fill out an application can do so on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday at the Salvation Army Office on Second Avenue from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Applications will be available on Thursday and Friday from 2 p.m. until 6 p.m. Stoker said people should bring picture identification for everyone in the household, as well as proof of income.

He said gifts for boys 16 through 18 years old are always in short supply, as is box meals and canned fruit. He said cash, gift or food donations can be dropped off at the Holiday Headquarters in the Harbor Side Mall.

Steve Schulwitz can be reached via email at or by phone at 358-5689. Follow Steve on Twitter ss_alpenanews. Read his blog, Upon Further Review … at