VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — The Salvation Army Hampton Roads Area Command kicked off this year's holiday season with a special event in Virginia Beach Friday.
The organization took to the stage at Lynnhaven Mall to start accepting donations for the Angel Tree Program, which will offer new toys and clothes for children in need.
Major Donald Dohmann, area commander for the Salvation Army of Hampton Roads, said the organization hopes to adopt 6,500 children through the Angel Program by December 2.
"The Salvation Army in helping others, is only as successfully as those in our community that are willing to be a part of the lives of others," said Dohmann.
The organization also hopes to raise $500,000 through its Red Kettle campaign. Salvation Army's bell ringing also officially launched Friday, where volunteers will take their posts to ring bells and raise money. It will run through Christmas Eve when the red kettles are packed away for the season.
The money would help an estimated 20,000 families in the Hampton Roads area in need of shelter, clothes, and rental assistance. The funds would also support the program's utilities.
"Volunteers are the difference between an empty kettle and one that raises about $30 per hour – enough to provide a family with two bags of groceries or shelter for an individual for a night," the organization said.
Dohmann called it a "lofty goal," but there’s a lot of need right now, as a many families are still dealing with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and record inflation.
"We're still optimistic," said Dohmann. "We still have this goal. This is what we know: the needs in our community still have to be met, and for the Salvation Army, we want to make sure that we have the resources we need to meet those needs when the request is made."
Another program, the MyHoliday Socks, will provide a stocking stuffed with small toys, games and more to children registered in the Angel Tree Program.
"This event will mark the official embrace of the unceasing generosity across Hampton Roads that helps to guarantee the joy of Christmas to thousands of kids who would otherwise not experience it," The Salvation Army wrote in a news release.
The Salvation Army is in need of donations and volunteers. To donate to those in need this Christmas, visit The Salvation Army's website.