What would Christmas be without The Salvation Army? Smiling bell ringers greet busy shoppers outside of area stores, Angel Tree gifts are bought, sorted, and delivered to excited children and families in time for Christmas morning, and holiday meals are lovingly prepared and served to seniors and those in need. The Salvation Army is synonymous with the holiday season and continues to make Christmas possible for many, right here in Muskogee.
The Salvation Army is excited to celebrate National Salvation Army Week, May 10-16. Since April 1900, The Salvation Army has faithfully and consistently worked to help those in need from our community 365 days a year, providing assistance to individuals and families who find themselves in crisis, shelter to those experiencing homelessness, food and meals to the hungry, and much more.
The Salvation Army is perhaps best known for the Red Kettle campaign and Angel Tree Christmas program. The Red Kettle program was started in 1891 by Salvation Army Captain Joseph McFee. The purpose of the kettle was to raise funds to provide a free Christmas dinner for the destitute and poverty-stricken in San Francisco. Almost 130 years have passed since its inception and the Red Kettle has become the icon of The Salvation Army, with every coin and dollar bill dropped into the red kettles going to support year-round ministry and assistance to those in need.
Along with the familiar Red Kettles, the Angel Tree program is one of The Salvation Army’s most effective and loved Christmas efforts. The Angel Tree was created by The Salvation Army in 1979 by Majors Charles and Shirley White when they worked with a Lynchburg, Va., shopping mall to provide clothing and toys for children at Christmastime. The program includes Angel Trees in local shopping malls, on-site at area corporations, churches and organizations, and in recent years has expanded to include online Angels. The local community continues to show great support for the Angel Tree program and in 2020, more than 9,234 gifts were received by children, veterans, and nursing home residents in Muskogee to open on Christmas morning through the generosity of donors and businesses and The Salvation Army Angel Tree program.
“Christmas 2020 was a very challenging time for many in our community as we continued to deal with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The Salvation Army has experienced heightened need over the last year or so and we have adjusted many of our programs and pivoted the way in which we serve to allow for social distancing and ensure the safety of staff, volunteers and clients,” said Capt. Teri Smith, commanding officer of The Salvation Army. “The community really stepped up to support our work at Christmastime, both through volunteering, and also by continuing to give at the traditional red kettles and through online kettles. During this National Salvation Army Week, we want to say thank you for your support and prayers at Christmas and throughout the year.”
For more information, or to make a donation, call The Salvation Army of Muskogee, (918) 682-3384 or visit us at 700 Independence Ave., or online at www.salvationarmyaok.org.