Salvation Army holding fundraiser dinner, kicking off holiday programs

By NEAL WAGNER / City Editor

The Shelby County Salvation Army is planning several events over the next several weeks to help those in need during the upcoming Christmas season.

The organization will host its first-ever fundraiser dinner Nov. 15 at 6 p.m. at the Pelham Civic Complex.

The event will include a silent auction featuring items like footballs autographed by Jacksonville State University head football coach Jack Crowe, University of Alabama Heisman winner Mark Ingram, former NFL quarterback Terry Bradshaw and Auburn University Heisman winner and current Samford University football coach Pat Sullivan.

The Salvation Army, which is based in Alabaster and is under the command of Sgts. Andy and Jenny Bailey, will also auction off items like free rounds of golf and vacations to Gulf Shores.

All money raised during the dinner will provide much-needed help for the Salvation Army’s holiday aid programs, said Salvation Army employee Carolyn McGilvray.

“This is the first time we decided to do it like this,” McGilvray said. “The need is pretty great in our area for food and financial help right now.

“We have a budget that we have to adhere to, and we would like to help more people this year if we can,” she added.

Individual tickets to the dinner are $68, and tables for up to eight people can be purchased for $500 each.

Beginning Nov. 19, Salvation Army volunteers will also start filling the area with a familiar holiday sound, McGilvray said. Every year, the Salvation Army’s bell ringers brave sub-freezing temperatures as they collect donations from holiday shoppers.

“Our bell ringers will start going out on the 19th,” McGilvray said, noting all money the bell ringers collect also aids the Salvation Army’s aid programs. “They are going to be at quite a few stores in the county.”

Because of the national economic downturn, many families are facing financial hardships this year, and will struggle to provide Christmas presents for their children, McGilvray said.

Last Christmas, the Salvation Army sponsored 523 children throughout the area, but the number could be much higher this year, she said.

Through the Salvation Army’s holiday adoption program, volunteers sponsor a child in need by helping to purchase Christmas presents for them.

“We are expecting between 500 and 600 children to need help this year, so we are hoping to get people to adopt a child,” McGilvray said. “Last year, we had 523. But this year, we’ll pass that. There are just a lot of needs right now.”

To order tickets for the Salvation Army’s dinner, to learn more about the organization’s bell ringer program or to sponsor a child for Christmas, call the Shelby County Salvation Army at 663-7105 or 663-7579.