BY SHERI TRUSTY
Christmas in Ottawa County would not be the same without the compassionate support that flows from the Salvation Army Port Clinton Service Center each year. The center provides food, toys and warm clothes for families in need, making winter more comfortable and keeping the holidays filled with joy.
To reach as many families as possible, the center needs assistance from the community.
Local residents can help the center to help their neighbors through the Red Kettle Christmas Campaign, the Salvation Army Toy Drive and the Coats for Families program.
The Red Kettle Kick Off event, which will be held on Friday, Nov. 3 from 8 to 11 a.m., will look a little differently this year. Instead of hosting a ceremony, the Kick Off will be held as an open house at the Service Center at 1834 E. Perry Street in Port Clinton. The event gives volunteers the opportunity to tour the facility.
“People can stroll through,” said Service Center Director Kami Sayre. “Last year, a lot of people said they’ve never been to our office. It’s a beautiful space. We rent it out for events.”
The Red Kettle Christmas Campaign will be held Nov. 13 through Dec. 23. During the Kick Off event, local residents are encouraged to sign up for two-hour bell ringing shifts at one of eight locations throughout the county. Organizations, congregations and businesses are encouraged to Adopt-a-Kettle for a day by providing bell ringers for five 2-hour shifts.
“We love when service organizations adopt a whole day,” Sayre said.
This year, Red Kettle Christmas Campaign volunteer registration is completely online, so the old signup boards will be replaced with computers. Salvation Army staff will be on hand during the kick off to assist with online registration. Registration can also be made at www.registertoring.com.
The Red Kettle Kick Off will include a breakfast buffet. Sayre hopes the community rallies around the campaign, as it has in the past.
“We really need volunteers all over the county,” she said.
The Ottawa County Salvation Army Toy Drive, held in collaboration with Marine Toys for Tots, will launch on Thursday, Nov. 9 from 8 to 11 a.m. with the Port Clinton Service Center’s first Holiday Toy Kick-Off Open House. The event is open to businesses, churches and organizations wishing to be a toy collection site and, if they plan to attend the open house, they should register by calling the Service Center at 419-732-2769.
Groups can pick up a toy collection box, tour the Service Center, and enjoy coffee and doughnuts.
Anyone wishing to donate toys can drop off new, unwrapped toys at a collection box beginning on Thursday, Nov. 9. Drop off locations can be found at The Salvation Army – Ottawa County, Ohio Facebook page. Donations can also be dropped off at the Service Center during the Channel 13 Hope for the Holidays drive-through toy drop-off event on Friday, Dec. 8 from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.
The 31st Annual Salvation Army’s Coats for Families drive is currently underway and will run through Dec. 31. NEW coats, hats and gloves can be dropped off at the Service Center to help keep local residents warm this winter. Last year, over 900 articles of clothing were distributed, including 400 coats.