Sunday, December 16, 2018
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When it comes to helping others, the Salvation Army shines at what it does year-round.

But its brilliance truly comes during the Holidays, with Thanksgiving and Christmas as the brightest moments.

It’s during this season that the charitable organization shows what it means to put others first. It couldn’t do that, however, without its army of donors and volunteers, who keep the Salvation Army self-sustaining and help give so many in need hope and encouragement with something as simple, and valuable, as a meal, a blanket or a warm place to drop their head for some peaceful rest.

Already underway for the Salvation Army is the Angel Tree program that identifies children living in poverty and creates tags in the shape of angels with their wishes for Christmas. The public is invited to be donors who help bring a little joy to these children by “adopting” a child by purchasing at least one gift from the child’s wish list.

“We are expecting 700 families and we allow the public to pick a tag and fill out all the paperwork for those who adopt the angels,” said Mario Quintanilla, grant and public relations director of the Salvation Army, located at 1600 N. 23rd St. in McAllen. “We’ve already started, but we are looking for more volunteers to be at the mall on the table to help promote the program and help fill out the forms for those who adopt.”

Angel Tree day, the day every child receives their angel tree gift, will be held Dec. 17 at their angel tree warehouse. Volunteers are also needed to help separate out products and distribute them on the day. The program has already started at the mall but it’s not too late to volunteer to sit at the table, sign up “adopters” and promote the Salvation Army programs.

Of course, the most well-known of all the events that the Salvation Army oversees is the Red Kettle Campaign and Quintanilla said they are looking for volunteers to serve as bell ringers and help with collecting donations at the various locations the kettle are designated.

“We have about 50 locations that we go to on a daily basis,” Quintanilla said. “One thing about all the donations is that they stay here locally to help those here.” Donations are used to help run the emergency shelter, which Quintanilla said is the “only emergency shelter open to the public in Hidalgo County. It also helps operate our kitchen that is open to the public for lunch and dinner,” he said.

The Red Kettle Campaign, like the Angel Tree Project, began Nov. 2.

Other season opportunities include a Thanksgiving Day Luncheon. The Salvation Army is looking for volunteers to help out on Thanksgiving Day to serve lunch and do various other tasks related to the meal. Last year, Quintanilla said, they served more than 1,100 meals on the single day.

If you don’t have the time to volunteer, the Salvation Army is looking for donations as well.

“One thing we are needing is a donation of coats for adults,” Quintanilla said. “Also, we are in need of blankets, towels and twin-sized bed sheets. Those are some of the things we are in need of now. Because of the cold we are seeing more people come by our doors.”

Of course there are certain products needed year round such as hygiene products, clothing and canned food for the pantry.
Donations can be taken to the main office, located at 1600 N. 23rd St. in McAllen. The office is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

“We had almost 11,000 individual nights of lodgers in the shelter and we served a little more than 76,000 meals last year” Quintanilla said. “We operate the only emergency shelter open to the community in Hidalgo County.

Those interested in volunteering, making donations, or seeking information about other opportunities, can call Quintanilla at (956) 682-1468 or email him at Mario.quintanilla@uss.salvationarmy.org.

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