Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

RED KETTLES AND BELL-RINGERS; Salvation Army out to Help 'Pockets of Poverty' Here

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

RED KETTLES AND BELL-RINGERS; Salvation Army out to Help 'Pockets of Poverty' Here

Article excerpt

Byline: KEVIN TURNER

FERNANDINA BEACH - The Salvation Army's familiar red kettles and bell-ringers are appearing here for the first time this year.

In April, the Salvation Army took over operations at the Hope House at Date and South Ninth streets. The organization only raises funds in counties where it maintains active assistance programs.

"The money raised in the Red Kettle program stays in Nassau County," said Salvation Army Public Relations Coordinator Jill Black.

The Red Kettle program began to peal here Nov. 15, said Lynne Peterson, Hope House manager of social services. Money raised will help fund Hope House programs in 2008, she said.

"What we raise will support our social services all through next year, like helping people with their [electricity] bills and sponsoring 10 Nassau County children to go to the Salvation Army's Camp Keystone in the summer," she said.

Black said many of those who need assistance here are senior citizens who are shut-ins or have no local family support.

"There are pockets of poverty in Nassau County that people might not be aware of," Black said. "There's definitely a need among both seniors and children there. There's always a need for monetary donations and for clothing for Hope House," Black said.

Volunteer bell-ringers are at seven stores in Fernandina Beach, Yulee and Amelia Island, Peterson said.

Peterson said many come from churches and organizations such as the Boy Scouts.

"A lot of people who have done it have really enjoyed it and asked if they can come back and do it again," Peterson said. "It really gives a sense of community - people stop and talk to you."

Amelia Island resident Rose Bennett said when she rang the bell recently at Kmart on Sadler Road, she enjoyed the experience.

"The best thing about it for me is that I get to say Merry Christmas to everybody," she said. "It was so much fun. The Salvation Army, to me, is the most pure form of charity. People trust the Salvation Army. They know when they donate it's going to people who need it."

Bennett said that as she rang the bell one cold evening, a young man stood beside her and played Christmas carols on a flute. …

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