The familiar sound of the Salvation Army bell each Christmas season reminds shoppers to give to those who are less fortunate. But for one local couple, the tinkling sound of the Salvation Army bell means much, much more.
Gladys and Richard Charles Premo lost their home to fire about seven years ago. “We lost everything,” she said, and the Salvation Army was “really gracious and generous to us. They even paid electrical bills for us.”
Today, she and her husband are the ones ringing Salvation Army bells for the organization’s Red Kettle Campaign. “We’re trying to give back to the community,” she said.
The Red Kettle Campaign, which accounts for about 70 percent of the organization’s income, “funds shelters, meal programs, Christmas toys, after-school programs and emergency assistance,” according the Salvation Army’s official website. The Premo’s efforts now join others across the nation to provide assistance, not only for Christmas, but for the current victims of Hurricane Sandy.
The husband and wife team started their seasonal volunteer work this past weekend at the entrance doors to Walmart and will continue to be there on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays until Christmas. “As Christians, we just love people and love helping people,” said Richard.
“William Booth started a really good program that realizes people with physical needs often have spiritual needs,” said Gladys.
When Booth, a Christian evangelist, first founded the Salvation Army in the 1860’s, the organization was called The Christian Mission. His volunteers were referred to as the Hallelujah Army. It was not until 1878 that Booth decided to call his program the Salvation Army.
The Red Kettle Campaign has been in operation since the early 1900’s, but was not part of the Salvation Army’s original methods for securing money to feed, clothe and house the needy.
According to the history provided on the organization’s website,”In 1901, kettle contributions in New York City provided funds for the first mammoth sit-down dinner in Madison Square Garden, a custom that continued for many years. Today in the United States, The Salvation Army assists more than four-and-a-half million people during the Thanksgiving and Christmas time periods.”
— Staff Writer Karen Kissiah can be reached by calling 843-537-5261, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.