The Turlock Salvation Army’s annual Kettle Kickoff may look a bit different these days, but it’s still a perfect opportunity to raise much-needed funds for one of the city’s most treasured nonprofits.
Last year, COVID put a stop to the usual holiday luncheon fundraiser and forced the organization to convert the event into a drive-thru affair. The Kettle Kickoff signals the start of the bell-ringing season for Salvation Army volunteers, and in pre-pandemic years an auction and the famous “Kettle Klash” are held. Both raise money for the charity, with different teams racing around from attendee to attendee to collect as much cash as they can during the Klash.
For the second year in a row, this year’s Kettle Kickoff will be held at Neto’s where supporters can pick up their Thanksgiving-style meal from the comfort of their car. After hosting a drive-thru event last year, Turlock Salvation Army Captain Jeffrey Breazeale said the organization suffered a nearly $30,000 loss compared to what the typical indoor luncheon would raise.
“We did see less people and less giving,” Breazeale said, noting that the nonprofit didn’t want to hold an outdoor luncheon due to the cold. “Because we’re still in COVID this year, we’ve chosen once again to do a drive-thru so that everyone can be comfortable.”
Funds raised for the Salvation Army are vital to the community, providing an after-school program for students, activities and resources for seniors, food boxes, utility assistance and help for job seekers. This year, Kettle Klash teams will go out into the community to collect donations and will have an extended deadline of Dec. 25 to do so.
Breazeale came to Turlock just two months into the pandemic and said the community’s spirit has inspired him since then, in spite of tough times brought on by the “new normal.”
“The Turlock community is very supportive and very giving. The city loves its people and I am so proud to be Turlocker,” he said.
In addition to selling tickets to the Kettle Kick-Off drive-thru, the Turlock Salvation Army is also looking for volunteers to ring bells alongside the organization’s iconic red kettles this holiday season. The kettles are placed outside businesses around town, where bell ringers can volunteer in shifts of two hours or more.
The Kettle Kick-Off drive-thru will be held from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. Nov. 20. Tickets are $25 per meal or $80 for a family pack of four meals. Tickets can be purchased by contacting Beverly Spielman at the Turlock Salvation Army at 209-667-6091.