“The Salvation Army’s Red Kettle Campaign is a national fundraising every year, which was started way back in 1891 in San Francisco, and has since become one of the most recognizable fundraisers in America,” Mark said. “Every year we go out as bell ringers, set up a tripod, and hang a bucket out at the stores and the places where people gather in the communities and we ask for money.”
One thing will come as no surprise to most people in Scioto County — the need for services such as those provided by the Salvation Army will increase this year.
“We’ve been in the midst of an economic downturn for several years now, and the unemployment rate recently was over 10 percent, and nationally it’s a pretty dire picture and I don’t think that’s really news to the residents of Scioto County,” Mark said. “I’ve been told, since we came here that Scioto County has been experiencing economic problems for longer than the nation has. So we are helping all kinds of people here. And there are hundreds of people who come through our building every single week for food, for assistance, for clothing, for furnishings, in addition to the spiritual needs which we seek to meet.”
Mark said he believes these services are obviously essential to the needs of the community, and that they can be taken care of only through the financial support of the people who live here. So, he says the Red Kettle Campaign is an important way in which the Salvation Army can provide the support.
“At Christmas time, in addition to the normal services, the meals and the food pantry, we provide special Christmas food baskets to hundreds of families,” Ferreira said. “And we are continuing to sign people up. And we have traditionally had the Angel Tree program, helping children with toys and things like that. It’s important to us that people have the quality of life that all people should have during the holidays.”
As one might expect, one of the primary services provided by any officer of the Salvation Army deals with spiritual needs, and to the Ferreiras they are no exceptions to that rule.
“We take every opportunity to share the gospel of Jesus Christ in everything that we do,” Mark said. “We feel that is our mission to help these people during the holidays, especially the love of Christ, being the feet on the ground for the church.”
Though needs have increased in this area over the last several years, a rift occurred within the local citadel and in its relationship with the community — a rift the Ferreiras are well-aware of and are seeking to reverse.
“I can’t speak to many of the specifics that have happened in the past, but I have come to a little bit of an understanding of some of the recent history of this corps,” Mark said. “And it seems that just like any other organization, and just like anywhere else there are times which aren’t as good as other times.”
Mark zeroed in on the issue that has brought about a downturn in donations in the community, despite an increase in need.
“There are times when perhaps trust isn’t as deserved as it should be,” Mark said. “I think it is important for us to recognize that mistakes have been made, but that we push forward, and that we seek to earn people’s trust. We don’t expect anymore that people just love us because we are the Salvation Army. People have called the Salvation Army America’s favorite charity. And in a lot of ways that is true. But we still have to earn that trust every day, with integrity, making sure that we have transparency in what we do.”
Mark said part of what he is doing is to return to the traditional red tripods. He said, in recent years, they were using black tripods, but that he has brought them out and had them repainted for the season to bring back the traditions of the past.
“The best things we can do is be true servants of Christ, and be honest in what we do,” Mark said. “We want to communicate with the public. We want to make sure that people know that we are still serving here just as we have been doing for 115 years in this community, and we will continue to do so. And we want to make sure that we are able to move on from the mistakes of the past.”
The Red Kettle Campaign kicks off on Nov. 27 at Wal-Mart, Kmart and Kroger in Portsmouth and Wheelersburg.
Frank Lewis may be reached at (740) 353-3101, ext. 232.