SOUTH HAVEN | The four Stoner youngsters struggled a bit Wednesday morning.
The 40-pound turkey they'd raised filled the arms of Rachel, 16, Ruth, 12, and twins Nathan and Carter, 9, of Morgan Township, as they presented it to Major Jon Welch of the Salvation Army of Porter County.
It was one of 12 they'd raised with the intention of donating one to the group to be served at its annual Thanksgiving day meal.
"We are blessed to do 4-H," said Rachel. "We wanted to give back to the community."
The presentation was part of the Salvation Army's annual Holiday Season Kick-off event.
This year, said Welch, they hope to raise $280,000 through the direct mail and red kettle campaign. The funds are used throughout the year to support those in need with food, housing, medical bills, clothing and utilities.
Last year, bell ringers raised $129,000 through the kettles. This year, said Welch, he raised the goal because the need continues to be great.
"We are serving a lot more people from the pantry," he said, adding that food distribution has increased 500 percent over last year.
Kettles will be manned at 28 locations throughout the county. New locations include Strack & Van Til and Town & Country grocery stores.
The campaign received a good start with the donation of $5,000 from NIPSCO.
"We always look for ways to step up and help the communities," said Rick Calinski, NIPSCO public affairs manager.
Welch said they are in need of volunteer bell ringers. anyone interested should contact the Salvation Army at (219) 762-9191 or go online at saportercounty.org to sign up.
The annual holiday campaign includes the Thanksgiving day dinner, Angel Tree, Adopt-a-Family, Christmas Nursing Home/Shut-in Senior Gift Distribution, Christmas food distribution, and youth and family Thanksgiving and Christmas parties, and Christmas and New year worship services.