From now until Dec. 24, volunteers will ring bells at 10 locations throughout Northwest Ottawa County as The Salvation Army kicks off its annual Red Kettle campaign.
Other agencies are also asking for help so that they in turn can help community members in need.
Each year, the Red Kettle campaign raises about $20,000 that allows The Salvation Army's Grand Haven corps to continue providing services and meet community needs, said Capt. Jay Davis.
“We want to make a difference in people’s lives,” he said.
Capt. Sally Davis said the holiday season is an “extremely busy” time as the Grand Haven corps fills holiday baskets and provides other services, such as its food pantry and housing programs. They recently filled 50 Thanksgiving baskets that will impact more than 150 individuals, she said.
The Salvation Army is also in the process of accepting applications for families and individuals who need assistance for Christmas. Sally Davis said they normally help about 400 families, and have already received applications for 250.
Love INC Executive Director Mark Green said his agency normally sees a rise in the number of residents seeking their services during the holiday season. He said a variety of factors could cause the demand, such as recent cuts in food stamp assistance and underemployment.
“The needs are continuing to rise,” Green said.
Green said he appreciates the help residents have provided, but they need more community support to meet the needs. The Love INC food pantry needs are canned meats, pasta, canned beans and soups. Green said they also need coats, gloves, hats and boots.
Green said residents turn to them and other agencies to maintain normalcy in their lives.
“If we can help them keep some measure of normalcy in their lives, we want them to know that we’re here for them,” he said.
Karen Reenders, director of The People Center in Spring Lake, said recent Tribune articles addressing food pantry needs has led to generous community donations.
Although Reenders said they tend to see a slowdown during the holidays, as agencies provide some community members with food baskets, she doesn’t know what to except this year. She thinks there’s a greater need than in the past, and residents can continue to help through monetary contributions and non-perishable food items.