There are many community traditions that we associate with the holidays: decorations, parades and gift shopping, but also an outpouring of charitable giving.
Who among us hasn’t encountered one of The Salvation Army’s red kettles during the Christmas season, accompanied by bell-ringers greeting shoppers and tolling encouragement to share a few dollars to help those less fortunate.
Local Kiwanis Clubs have long supported the New River Valley Salvation Army by providing volunteers to ring those bells.
“The Blacksburg Kiwanis Club, of which I am a member, rings the bell from Black Friday to Christmas Eve,” Dr. Larry Taylor wrote in an email, noting in a subsequent message that the weekend of Dec. 4 and 5 had been particularly successful: between regular collections and two special checks, the tally for Dec. 5 was more than $1,600, he reports.
“I had the pleasure of counting this money Monday morning with Charlene’s assistance,” Taylor added.
“Charlene” is Capt. Charlene Cover, who recently became the new leader of The Salvation Army in the New River Valley. Cover hails from Jamaica, and has previously served Salvation Army corps in Parkersburg, West Virginia, and in Hagerstown, Maryland.
“Charlene’s passion is to preach the gospel and meet human needs without discrimination,” Taylor wrote in one of several email messages to The Roanoke Times. “Her ultimate desire is to see people fully embrace God’s love.”
The Salvation Army was started in England in 1865 by a man of the cloth named William Booth, who chose to minister to needy people in the streets of London rather than work in a traditional church. Originally calling his ministry The Christian Mission, he was inspired by a reference to his “volunteer army” to rename his organization The Salvation Army. One of Booth’s missioners, Eliza Shirley, brought The Salvation Army to the United States when her parents immigrated to Philadelphia.
The Salvation Army of the New River Valley encompasses the counties of Montgomery, Pulaski, Floyd, Giles and the city of Radford. In Cover’s role, she serves as pastor of the Salvation Army Church on Roanoke Street in Christiansburg, and oversees projects such as the Christmas Angel Tree, weekly soup kitchens, and of course the red kettles placed throughout the community. The New River Valley corps also operates a thrift store in Fairlawn, and provides disaster, emergency and casework services.
As the bells ring on, Taylor notes that Kiwanians also support the Angel Tree project, which wraps up on Thursday, Dec. 17, with distribution of gifts to dozens of children in need.
For more information about Kiwanis, please contact Jerry Jones at 552-8296 or email@example.com.