napier family

Three generations of the Napier family have been ringing bells for the Salvation Army during the Christmas season, including (front row, from left) grandchildren Nixon, Talon, Lola, Kai, Averee; (back row, from left) Tyler, father, Michelle, mother, Faith, granddaughter, Kelly (a.k.a. Mimi), grandmother, and Don (a.k.a. Papa), grandfather.

The Salvation Army is now in the holiday recruiting business as staff members and volunteers gear up for the charitable organization's seasonal programs.

In addition to the many programs the Salvation Army offers throughout the year, the following seasonal programs are underway:

Coats For Kids Drive

Throughout September and October, the Salvation Army will collect donations of new and gently used coats for children.

"Tehachapi really shows up for our Coats For Kids Drive," said Sandy Chavez, center coordinator. "The community has always been so generous."

Chavez asked that coats be dropped off at the Salvation Army through Oct. 31 so that they may be sorted and prepared for distribution from 9 to 11 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 2 at the center.

"We would love to have the children come with their parent(s) and pick out their own coat and enjoy a doughnut," Chavez said.

Holiday food baskets

Holiday food baskets will again be distributed for Thanksgiving and Christmas on a first-come, first-served basis, with no applications necessary.

According to Chavez, close to 300 food baskets were distributed last year for each holiday.

"Those who need a food basket for Thanksgiving and/or Christmas can just show up on the day of distribution," said Chavez. "All I need is a signature and how many people are in your family."

Thanksgiving baskets will be distributed beginning at 11 a.m. on Nov. 19, and Christmas baskets will be distributed on Dec. 17.

The Salvation Army will also accept monetary donations to help with purchasing turkeys for the baskets.

Angel Tree

The Angel Tree program is slated to begin Oct. 21, with applications accepted through Dec. 6.

"This is the one and only time that we do ask for documentation," Chavez said. "We gather all the information about the family, but it's the community that meets the needs."

Applicants must provide proof of residency, income and for each child for whom assistance is needed. The child's age, needs and Christmas wishes are included on each "Angel" tag, which the Salvation Army distributes to local organizations and churches.

"We need individuals to help sponsor Angel Trees," said Cathy Criter, coordinator of the Angel Tree program. "We would love for every little kid to have a new bike for Christmas."

For more information or to sponsor an Angel Tree, call Criter at 972-1739.

Bell ringers

The Salvation Army's largest fundraising activity is through its Kettle Drive. The proceeds sustain its many programs throughout the year.

"Everything that is placed in those red kettles stays in this community for what we do," Chavez said.

Once again, coordinator Don Napier, a multi-generational volunteer, will oversee the holiday Kettle Drive.

"If you can give two hours of your own time, it will help the whole year," said Napier.

This year, the iconic red kettles will be found at Walmart, Savemart and Albertsons starting Black Friday following the Thanksgiving holiday. Volunteers to man the kettles are needed for two-hour shifts Monday through Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., through Dec. 24.

"They need to bring their own personality, and make it fun," said Napier, adding that 16 kettle ringers or kettle ringing groups are needed to occupy the four locations each day.

According to Chavez, the Kettle Drive is a way for the Salvation Army to invest in its community.

"That's where this money goes ... to helping your neighbor," she said.

Two years ago, the Salvation Army started the Register to Ring online signup sheet. The site will be up and running soon at registertoring.com.

Individuals can also call Napier at 520-7770 to register.

Help year-round

The Salvation Army also provides Fresh Rescue every Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. This a program in which the Salvation Army partners with Albertsons by receiving produce, dairy and other other food items that the local grocery store would otherwise discard.

On the second and fourth Mondays of each month, the Salvation Army provides food to local seniors.

"We offer them food, fellowship and coffee," Chavez said. "Not only do we feed them, but we encourage them as well."

Commodities Day is once a month, and is a federal program that's been around since the 1950s. It includes pre-packaged food such as rice, beans, pasta and canned goods. It is held once a month, normally on the third Tuesday.

The Salvation Army is located at 538 E. Tehachapi Blvd. For more information, visit salvationarmyusa.org or the Facebook page, or call 823-9508.