Red Kettle Drive off to a slow start in Sussex

By Ronald MacArthur

There is much more to The Salvation Army than red kettles. "People don't realize what we do," said Joyce Tull, who has worked for The Salvation Army in the Seaford area for the past 26 years. "We don't beat our own drum. We are out there doing the work of God through our programs and volunteers and we don't ask anything back in return." She is currently the family services director for Sussex County. Programs in the local area include crisis intervention to help families pay bills, budget counseling and family counseling. There is also an extensive food program run out of the office next to the Food Lion in Seaford. Tull said that participants in the program pay $18 a month and get $100 worth of food. The organization also runs a food closet for the homeless. The Seaford location has a toy shop to help parents who can't afford to purchase gifts during the holiday and during the summer, they help to sponsor children at summer camp. Although programs run all year, this is the busiest time of year for the organization, according to Tull. Coordinating the Red Kettle Drive, which takes place all over Sussex County, is almost a full-time job in itself. "It's a lot of work and it's getting harder to find volunteers and places. It gets harder every single year," Tull said.
She said that the drive is already $1,000 behind last year's total after the first two weeks. The drive runs from Thanksgiving to Christmas Eve. "We are in desperate need of volunteers and more organizations to get involved," Tull said. Two of the best locations for the kettles, Ames and Woolworth, went out of business. The loss of a key kettle location at the Seaford Wal-Mart Supercenter has made the job even harder. "We started inside the store and then were moved outside under the overhang and then totally outside," Tull said. "Where we had to place the kettles was almost on the edge of the sidewalk and really in the way and not safe. We couldn't have people stand there in the cold like that," she added. Kettle locations in the area include Peebles, Happy Harry's, Rite-Aid and Roses. Organizations helping with the drive include the Kiwanis Club of Seaford, Seaford High School Key Club, Seaford High School Jr. ROTC, the Masons, Eastern Star and Wesley Church. The impact of the Red Kettle Drive cannot be discounted. On a national level, it brings in more than $90 million a year to the organization. The following donations are needed by the local Salvation Army: new unwrapped toys; donations of cash; and food. Contact The Salvation Army office at 628-2020. The office is located next to the Food Lion on U.S. 13 in Seaford. Office hours are 9 to 5:30 p.m. Monday - Friday. For more information about The Salvation Army, check out the website at www.salvationarmy.org.

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