Salvation Army rallies communities to ‘Rescue Christmas’

Lynchburg, Virginia: The Salvation Army Angel Tree campaign returns to where it all began, as it has every holiday season since 1979: The River Ridge Mall in Lynchburg, where then-Majors Charles and Shirley White were inspired by Hallmark cards of Christmas angels to post children’s wish lists on Christmas trees. A total of 472 angels were sponsored that first year. Initially, the wish lists were for essential items of clothing, but as time went on, things like bicycles and toys were added. The Whites took the idea to Nashville when they were transferred three years later; there, Angel Tree won the sponsorship of radio station WSM, home of the Grand Ol’ Opry, and got nationwide attention on ABC Nightline and the Larry King Live radio station. The rest, as they say, is history. 

Mercer County, West Virginia: Now this is what you call a kettle! Lieutenant Dennis Smith, corps officer, loads his custom-made, Red Kettle barbecue smoker onto a trailer and takes it around town to “Rescue Christmas” for The Salvation Army. Passersby with smart phones are invited to scan the QR code on the sides and back of the trailer to pull up the Army’s donation page. Or they can go to and select the Mercer County Corps to donate. “It will help those who are struggling for so many different reasons!” Lieutenant Smith said in a Facebook posting. “Thank you in advance!” (Welding students at the Mercer County Technical Education Center fabricated the kettle out of a 400-pound propane tank and donated it to The Salvation Army.)

Cleveland, Tennessee: Glowry Laser Designs, a locally based manufacturer of laser-cut crafts kits, has come up with a creative way to support The Salvation Army in Cleveland. For every 8-by-10-inch wooden Christmas Tree Kraft Kit purchased, at a cost of $18 apiece, before Dec. 12, Glowry will donate one kit to the Angel Tree campaign. The kit, appropriate for adults, and for children with adult supervision, comes with a stand and works well with paint or markers (glue, paints and markers not included).

Athens, Georgia: University of Georgia baseball coaches, staff and players led by Coach Scott Stricklin pitched in to help The Salvation Army’s “Rescue Christmas” campaign Nov. 9 by helping to move about 10,000 toys to staging areas, in preparation for a final move to the Christmas Distribution Warehouse. Captain Erik Henry, Athens corps officer, said, “Since we have been here, we have building relationships with the UGA coaching staff of all sports. This one with Coach Stricklin has blossomed into a great outpouring of support. … They truly bring the troops every year to see how fast they can move it all. It has become a race for them. They start a timer and try to beat the year before.”

Johnson City, Tennessee: Members of the Carter County Car Club turn out for a fun morning of Christmas shopping for Angel Tree gifts at a local Walmart. They produced presents for 130 children.

Austin, Texas: The Austin Area Command held its annual Rock the Red Kettle Concert Nov. 8. Like many events in this year of the COVID-19 pandemic, the concert was performed virtually and featured a trio of popular Texas singer-songwriters: (from left) Walt Wilkins, Cory Morrow and Drew Womack. The concert kicks off the Christmas season for the Austin Area Command each year.

Louisville, Kentucky: The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has put a damper on big public gatherings, so The Salvation Army in Louisville launched its “Rescue Christmas” Red Kettle campaign Nov. 18 with a press conference streamed live from Sanders Auditorium. Here, a lead gift of $100,000 from The Colonel Harland Sanders Foundation of Canada was announced, a big step toward this season’s goal of raising $625,000 to meet the increased needs of the community. 

Bentonville, Arkansas: The Art on the Square art gallery and Downtown Bentonville Inc. partnered with The Salvation Army of Northwest Arkansas for a “100 for $100” holiday extravaganza on Nov. 13, with 100 original paintings, handcrafted pottery, and glass and woodwork for sale for $100 apiece; a portion of the sales proceeds were donated to The Salvation Army “Rescue Christmas” campaign. 

Chattanooga, Tennessee: The Salvation Army appreciates the volunteers of Silverdale Baptist Church, who came out to help the weekend of Nov. 21. “Thanks to their help, our #AngelTree warehouse is one step closer to being ready for distribution day!” the Chattanooga Command posted to Facebook.