GAINESVILLE - Typically, the Salvation Army red kettles start popping up for the Christmas season right about now. This year, though, you won't see the bulk of the kettles until the day after Thanksgiving.
The decision to hold off on the official start of the 2012 kettle drive was one made on the national level as part of an agreement with some corporate sponsors. It does shorten the giving season, and that is a bit of a concern for Gainesville Salvation Army Lt. Matt Cunningham, who says there are even more families to serve this year.
"[We've had] 730 families already ask for assistance, which is going to be about 3,500 children," said Cunningham.
In 2011, Gainesville's Salvation Army served 706 families with some 3,000 children for the Christmas season.
Cunningham said his officers will place a total of 35 red kettles around the region this season, and 15 will be set up Friday, November 16 with the remainder going up the day after Thanksgiving.
"J.C. Penney, Belk, Kroger, Walgreen's...those are the main locations we'll be at starting [Nov. 16]," said Cunningham.
Cunningham said the goal for this year's kettle drive is $180,000, the same goal as 2011. He said it won't be an easy goal to reach, but he thinks it's attainable even with fewer days during the Christmas collection period. Cunningham pointed out that the money collected during the kettle campaign is used year-round and not just for Christmas.
The Gainesville Salvation Army serves not only Hall County, but also
Banks, Barrow, Dawson, Lumpkin and Forsyth.