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First Church of God Thanksgiving Dinner

Paige Loeffler, center, of LaPorte, serves mashed potatoes to guests at a Thanksgiving dinner co-hosted by First Church of God and the Salvation Army on Saturday in LaPorte.

The Salvation Army's iconic red kettles and bell ringers braving the cold outside stores before Christmas serve as a reminder of our obligation to help those less fortunate than us.

In the 2016 holiday season, all four Salvation Army units in the Region — Lake County, Porter County, Michigan City and LaPorte — fell short.

That meant cutting spending on programs to help the less fortunate during the year.

The Salvation Army provides food, toys and other gifts during the holidays. Its services throughout the year include utility, rent and mortgage assistance, food pantries and other programs. Each unit has its own programs, such as filling backpacks with food for children for the weekend, summer camps, soup kitchens and services for senior citizens.

We should, of course, throw money in the kettle when we're able. But there's more we can do.

The Salvation Army units here welcome volunteer bell ringers.

Capt. Jon Welch of the Porter County unit is looking for volunteers to help ast 22 sites through Dec. 23. Volunteers can register online at saportercounty.org.

In Michigan City, volunteers can register for shifts of at least two hours at ringbells.org.

Lake County Maj. Jose Tamayo said 2,000 to 8,000 volunteers are needed for 80 sites. When there aren't enough volunteers, individuals earn minimum wage to ring bells. That helps those individuals, of course, but it also reduces the money available for other services throughout the year.

Lake County also is encouraging people to use redkettlereason.org to create a virtual kettle and invite friends and family to donate.

Porter County, LaPorte and Michigan City units offer a text-to-give campaign to donate via smartphones. Instructions are on each unit's website.

This year, let us remember to give through those red kettles, virtual or physical, to help The Salvation Army serve our neighbors year-round.

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Members of The Times Editorial Board are Publisher Christopher T. White, Editor Marc Chase, Deputy Editor Kerry Erickson, Assistant Local News Editor Crista Zivanovic and Regional News Editor Sharon Ross.