Bells will ring, teams will dash and cash will fly this month at one of the Salvation Army’s biggest fundraising events of the year – the annual Kettle Kickoff luncheon, which calls on the community to help make a difference.
“The Kettle Kickoff is very similar to a pep rally, but with really good food,” said Turlock Corps Major Debi Shrum. “It’s fun, and you’re doing something for your community. What better thing is there in life?”
The Kettle Kickoff is the Salvation Army’s most important event of the year, said Shrum, and raises funds used toward supporting the organization’s countless services, including groceries for families, counseling for adults, tutoring for children and activities for senior citizens. A majority of funds raised come courtesy of the luncheon’s Kettle Klash – a five-minute hectic scramble of volunteer teams racing around the venue with red Salvation Army kettles, aiming to collect as many cash donations as possible.
Last year, the event was able to raise $57,633. The Salvation Army is hoping the community can come together to raise at least $60,000 at this year’s event, said Shrum, so that the organization can continue providing such vital programs to the Turlock area.
“These programs bring up the quality of life for so many people here,” she said. “We’re hoping for a solid $60,000. The community surprises me every year, and they just bless the socks off me.”
While last year’s speaker, author Matthew Emerzian, was from out of the area, the Salvation Army looked to Turlock for this year’s special guest. Police Chief Nino Amirfar will be answering questions from those in attendance about the state of the city, said Shrum, and will address some of the issues citizens may be concerned about.
The event is called a kickoff for a reason, as it signals the start of the bell-ringing season for the Salvation Army. Shortly after the Kettle Kickoff luncheon, Salvation Army kettles will be distributed at locations around town, accompanied by bell ringers asking for donations. Through Dec. 24, donations taken will be used at the local Salvation Army. Those wishing to make donations to help victims of recent natural disasters are encouraged to write a memo saying so on any checks donated, said Shrum.
Volunteers for bell-ringing are still needed, and those interested can contact the Salvation Army at 209-667-6091, or register online at www.turlock.salvationarmy.org. Sign-ups will also be taken at the Kettle Kickoff luncheon.
The annual Kettle Kickoff luncheon will take place from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Nov. 14 at the Assyrian American Civic Club. Tickets are $25 per person or $300 for a reserved table of 10, and can be purchased by visiting the organization, 893 Lander Ave., or by calling 209-667-6091 or 209-815-3731.
“Everyone gets involved, and we really appreciate it,” said Shrum. “You see the same people year after year, and that’s nice. It’s just a happy atmosphere.”