Salvation Army bell ringers stand at the entrances to stores, ringing their bells. When coins clink in little red kettles, shoppers have done something to help the unfortunate.
But the Salvation Army’s efforts to help people go far beyond the clinking coins.
More than 400 families in Portales and the surrounding area say they would face the prospect of a bleak, cheerless Christmas if not for the Empty Stocking Fund — a fund-raising project designed to meet special needs.
The Portales News-Tribune, in conjunction with the Salvation Army, will bring stories of these families to the attention of the community in a series of stories that will be published throughout the holiday season.
The names will be changed to protect each family’s privacy, and details of each “case story” will be reported as the families told them to the Salvation Army.
“We had a lady who needed wood for her fireplace,” said Nene Marez, a case worker with the Salvation Army. After a story ran in the newspaper last year, “a gentleman called and said he wanted to give her some wood.”
Using the case number, the Salvation Army was able to make connections, and the woman got the wood she needed. This is only one of hundreds of examples of public largesse. “It’s not always about clothing,” Marez said.
By publicizing the case stories in the Empty Stocking Fund, the hope is to raise awareness of community needs.
In addition to the bell ringers and the Empty Stocking Fund, the Salvation Army has also arranged for Angel Trees to be set up at the Wal-Marts in Clovis and Portales, as well as the North Plains Mall in Clovis.
“It’s going real good,” said Frank Bean, manager at the Clovis Wal-Mart Supercenter. Children age 12 and under have written toy requests on angels, which are placed on the tree.
Customers, Bean said, “can pick up an angel and take it home or do whatever they want.”
Purchases do not have to be made at Wal-Mart, but if the toy is to be picked up by the Salvation Army, it has to be dropped off at the store, he said.
The Salvation Army also will provide food baskets to needy families. Marez said they will include pancake mix, peanut butter, jelly, canned goods, cereal, beans, rice, sugar and macaroni and cheese.
The organization orders some of it, and many of the canned goods are provided through food drives at the schools, she said.
Donations for the Empty Stocking Fund may be dropped off at the PNT, 101 E. First St.
Envelopes should be clearly marked to indicate they contain a donation for the Empty Stocking Fund.
All contributions will be forwarded to the Salvation Army.
People who would like to donate food or new Christmas toys or clothing items may do so at the Salvation Army office, 317 E. Second St. in Clovis.
Information is available by calling the office at 762-3801.