Salvation Army awards Bellringers

ZachBellZach Bell, Salvation Army Corps officer for Upper Pinellas County since 2010, today presented our Club with the coveted Salvation Army Bell for securing the greatest amount of donation achieved by Rotary Club bell ringers during the Christmas season.  Generous people gave $337,016 during the fundraising campaign, and the three top producing Rotary Clubs were Dunedin North as third with $3411, Clearwater Rotary as second with $4070.08, and Belleair as first with $9,805.77, the latter which required 58 volunteer hours.

Zach related that the Salvation Army is in the business of “Hope” 365 days a year.  To crystalized that image he told three stories.  The Salvation Army provides services to homeless children who are housed in hotels or a Transitional Living Center.  Every Tuesday more than a hundred children are exposed to activities related to character building.  On Wednesdays these children participate in a music program in which they get to learn to play various musical instruments.  This past Monday, President’s Day, with schools closed, younger children were bussed to the Salvation Army facility for lunch and a movie.  As part of the movie experience each child was provided with a small container of popcorn.  One child was overheard to say, “So, this is what popcorn is!”

Zach recalled hearing the comment of another child who was being driven with others to Camp Keystone.  Children reside in full cabins that are air conditioned and have access to swimming pool and horses.  In this vehicle Zach heard the “expert” on the camp (one who had been to this camp previously) tell a novice camper that this camp was “the most wonderful place ever . . . we are served three meals a day”.

And recently, in the production of video stories, one family that was interviewed related that the Salvation Army meant “everything to us…we don’t know that we would be alive without the Salvation Army.”  And when asked to explain, “The Salvation Army gave us a place to live for a full year, taught us to function: got me a job, taught me to manage money, provided a place for kids to go and taught us about hope”.

In sum, the Salvation Army houses, feeds, teaches, provides three meals a day, and makes popcorn.  But, assistance to the Salvation Army is not only at Thanksgiving and Christmas.  The organization needs the time, talent and treasure of our citizens.  Volunteer.  Bring your skill to the organization.  Donate on their site, or our site (bottom right corner of our home page).

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