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Going Public: Salvation Army in Cape Girardeau Seeks Volunteers to Help with Red Kettle Campaign

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The Salvation Army will not be serving a Thanksgiving meal in Cape Girardeau this year however they are in need of donations to their food pantry to help those in need as well as volunteers to ring the bell during their Red Kettle Campaign. We spoke with Salvation Army Captain Lily Reinier and Elizabeth Shelton, Executive Director of the United Way of Southeast Missouri.

Woods: So I understand the Salvation Army will not be serving a Thanksgiving meal this year and some folks may not know about that. But we'd like to talk about some other things to Salvation Army is doing and one of the things that you need is donations to the food pantry. Right Captain Reinier?

Reinier: Yes, we definitely need donations with the shortages going around everywhere. We've seen a real hit to our food pantry so any donations that are non-expired, non- perishables, we will definitely take because that will help us sustain our food pantry for for the year, for the month. Enough to build that we can do our weekly food pantry.

Woods: And Elizabeth is something you you and I have talked about the need for donations to some of these organizations to help folks during the holiday season.

Shelton: Absolutely. As everybody listening knows, prices are soaring on food items. So if you're already living on a really tight budget, or you've lost your job or something like that, food costs just become nearly impossible. And so I'm sure more families are coming to the food pantry that you haven't seen before. And so they take those donations. Is it Monday through Thursday?

Reinier: Yes, Monday through Thursday during our open business hours between nine and three we take donations, whatever you've got. We will definitely take you know as long as it's not expired. We can't give that out to the community for liability reasons, right.

Woods: Okay, we're in the holiday season and the bell ringers are about to start. So let's talk about that. I know you need volunteers this year.

Reinier: Yes, absolutely. So on Friday, you will start seeing those red kettles out around the community and the need is great this year that those kettles sustain us throughout the entire year. And that gives us the ability to help those people who come to us in need with shutoff notices or eviction notices, whatever we get in those kettles stays right here in this community to serve those people.

Woods: Very critical, right Elizabeth?

Shelton: That's right. And that's actually one of the reasons that United Way invests in the Salvation Army because the money raised here stays here. We invest in some of the things that Captain Lily just mentioned, which includes helping people with rent helping people with utility bills and water bills, and we also support their meals with friends program, and that occurs traditionally, the last two weeks of the month. Anyone can come in and have a free lunch. And I think you're working on going towards a slightly different schedule next year.

Reinier: So hopefully, within the next year we're able to switch to three days a week but we want to do that every week of the month and not just the last two weeks so that we're able to feed everybody every week. And those critical moments where you know, if we're only feeding people the last two weeks, what happens the rest of the month? People are still hungry. So we want to try to expand that program and your donations through the red kettle will help fund fund that like that's how we can expand programs, we can make new programs, it all just depends on how much we get and those kettles.

Woods: So the Red Kettle fundraiser is critical.

Reinier: It's critical to every every aspect of what we do relies on what goes in those kettles.

Shelton: I think a lot of people don't realize that that funds the services provided by the Salvation Army year round. And this year, it's all volunteer driven.

Reinier: So we are not paying any bell ringers this year. We are strictly going on all volunteer so we are enlisting the help of our community members to really get out and support the work that we do. Those people who have maybe provided assistance to us before — clubs, organizations, schools, police chiefs, fire chiefs, anybody. We'll take whoever can stand there. We just you know, ask that you can donate a couple of hours and that's all you know, two hours at a kettle will feed a lot of people.

Shelton: We actually that's how we have our holiday party at United Way. We start off by ringing the bell and dressing in our silly Christmas sweaters and singing Christmas carols. And then we all go have lunch and so it's a great way I encourage a lot of other workplaces to do that have that fun and support the community.

Woods: If folks want to volunteer to help how can I get involved?

Reinier: So we have a website that you can go to register to ring.com and you can just go right on there and it will pull up a list of all of our sites that we have kettles out and you're able to pick your own you're able to you know, pick how long where you want to go. But also if you cannot figure that out, you can give me a call at the Salvation Army and I'll be glad to help you. (573) 335-7000

Woods: And I guess United Way could help connect people too, right?

Shelton: Absolutely. And you know if you can volunteer at other times throughout the year at United Way of semo.org/volunteer we have where you can sign up to come help in the kitchen with the meals with friends to help in other ways with the Salvation Army or any of our other 29 funded partners.

Woods: All right, well, thank you both for stopping by. We appreciate it.

Shelton and Reinier: Thank you.

Dan is a 1994 graduate of Southeast Missouri State University. He majored in radio and minored in political science. He spent three of his four years at Southeast working as a student announcer at KRCU – the beginning of his radio career.