On Friday, we'll begin to hear a familiar sound of the holiday season, the sound of bells ringing in the name of the Salvation Army. The Kettle Drive is the organization's largest fundraiser. But this year there will be no bells ringing at Target stores nationwide. The chain has decided not to allow The Salvation Army to solicit funds since their policy states that no organizations are allowed to do so, and our local Salvation Army will not go unaffected.
The big question is how much money will our local Salvation Army lose without the Target location? Here's the answer: they'll miss out on about $17,000 this year. Target was the place where they received the most donations.
With a goal of about $300,000, one man is still determined to raise the money necessary to help the needy this holiday season. "The number one thing is we start trying to buy a special meal for the families that may not be able to afford that as well as toys for all the kids," creating Christmas miracles, that's what major Ernest Branscum has done for the past 30 years.
As a member of The Salvation Army the major leads his troops as they ring bells for donations for the less fortunate during the holidays. "It's long days, it's hard. The bell drives us crazy too but just to see some of the people that give as well as when you see what you're able to do with that, it's just so rewarding," he explains.
Despite the loss of the Target location, this Christmas will be no different for Major Branscum. This time of year reminds him of why he is so dedicated to helping with this organization. "When I was young my mother raised four of us kids and there were times when we were homeless. At Christmas time my mother had no extra money, and I want to tell you, I realize now that the Salvation Army probably gave me every toy that I had and I want to work so hard to make sure that the kids in this town have toys at Christmas time," he recalls with tears.
Like an eager child unwrapping a Christmas present, Major Branscum prepares to do his part to help 20,000 have toys and a hot meal on Christmas and he urges others to do the same. "Just let people know they care in some manner," he urges.
Many other retailers will continue to allow Salvation Army bell ringers to stand in front of their stores including Wal-Mart and all United locations. They've added locations of both Big Lots to help meet their goal. The Salvation Army is still seeking volunteers to ring bells during the holidays. For information just call (806) 765-9434. If you'd like to make a donation online, just ( click here).