SOUTH HAVEN | The familiar sound of hand bells outside local stores has begun again, signaling the start of the annual Salvation Army Kettle Campaign.
The money dropped in the familiar red kettles funds not only the special Christmas programs, but keeps all of the Salvation Army's social outreach programs functioning through the year.
Maj. Jon Welch said the Salvation Army of Porter County will help local families give Christmas gifts to about 1,000 kids this year.
Donations also will help 300 to 400 families with special food donations.
Through a mail campaign and the red kettles, the organization hopes to raise $245,000, about $5,000 more than last year, Welch said.
Six kettle locations already are active, he said. There will be about 21 throughout the county after Thanksgiving.
Volunteers are being sought to man the kettles.
In addition to the kettle campaign, the Salvation Army offers an angel tree program to collect Christmas gifts for local youths and an Adopt a Family program for businesses, churches and other organizations.
Angels, with gift requests, will be located at several banks. For more information about helping a family, contact the Salvation Army office.
Another annual tradition continues on Thanksgiving Day with the serving of of the free Community Thanksgiving Day Dinner from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Nov. 22 at 799 Capitol Road, at the intersection of U.S. 6.