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Salvation Army seeks sidewalk Santas

The Salvation Army’s annual donation drive will begin in lessthan two weeks on Nov. 23, the day after Thanksgiving, organizationofficials said.

With the event scheduled to last until Dec. 24, the Lincoln andPike county chapters of the organization are seeking volunteers toserve as sidewalk Santas for the holiday weeks.

More than 90 volunteers served during the month-long donation drivein Lincoln County last year. Wesley Kent, Lincoln County’s areacoordinator, is seeking to refill the ranks for 2007.

“We need as many people as we can get,” Kent said.

Brenda Kates, the director of the McComb Service Center in PikeCounty, shares Kent’s need for bell-ringers.

“We desperately need volunteers,” she said.

Kates pointed out that she has 10 individuals committed to theactivity, as well as several churches that provide the bulk of thevolunteers in Pike County.

Kent also named the faithful as chief contributors to the SalvationArmy’s cause. Last year, he also drew his Lincoln County manpowerfrom civic groups, girl scouts and Copiah-Lincoln Community Collegenursing students.

While the Salvation Army chapters in both counties are striving forthe same end, they will employ slightly different means.

The Lincoln County donation drive will be conducted entirely at theBrookhaven Wal-Mart. Bell-ringers will be stationed at the east andwest entrances to the store from 10 a.m. until 7 p.m., working intwo-hour shifts.

Kent said he will require about 10 volunteers per day. The numberwill be less if a volunteer is willing to work more than theplanned two-hour shift.

For Pike County, the bell-ringers will take up positions at theMcComb Wal-Mart, the McComb Market and the McComb Kroger. Thecurrent plan is for volunteers in the area to work from 10 a.m.until 8 p.m. in one-hour shifts. Kates said about 20 volunteers perday will be necessary to fill these hours.

The donation drive in both counties will be carried out from Mondaythrough Saturday, with no service on Sundays.

Despite the little differences, both Salvation Army chapters haveachieved success in Mississippi.

Kent said the area is very generous, noting that almost $30,000 wascollected in Lincoln County in 2006 without solicitation.

“We never ask for money,” Kent said. “We just stand there and ringthe bell, and say ‘thank-you’ whenever a donation is made.”

Kent said 86 percent of the money collected stays within the countyto help those in need.

“The money goes back into the community to help anyone who hassuffered through a flood, fire or any kind of home loss,” he said.”All they have to do is apply with us and we try to help within ourmeans.”

Anyone interested in volunteering for the Salvation Army’s donationdrive in Lincoln County may contact Kent at (601) 833-1088. Hisassistant coordinators for the event are the Rev. Bobby Harris,(601) 833-7663, and Otha Lloyd at (601) 833-7041.

In the Pike County area, interested people may contact Kates at(601) 249-0131 or Jim Coleman at (601) 684-1810.