Cleburne Times-Review, Cleburne, TX

October 9, 2011

Salvation Army of Johnson County prepares for holiday season

By Amber Bell/

— The Salvation Army of Johnson County is taking applications for the Angel Tree program, hiring holiday help and looking for volunteers to make Christmas a reality for Johnson County residents.

But wait — it’s not even Halloween.

Nancy Holt, Salvation Army director for Johnson County, said even though it’s barely the second week of October, it’s due time to start preparing for Thanksgiving and Christmas, especially since she said it looks like it may be another rough year for Santa.

The Salvation Army began taking Angel Tree applications on Monday and will continue to do so through the end of the month. Applications must be made in person at a Salvation Army center.

“The first day we had a lot of applications,” Holt said. “Now, they’re just trickling in.”

Holt said about 15 to 20 families are making their way to the Cleburne location each day and filling out forms to be one of the many angels on an Angel Tree around town. The hope is that the angels will be ready for pick-up the week of Thanksgiving. The trees will be displayed around town, at banks, Walmart and other stores.

“I expect more kids this year than we’ve had in the past,” Holt said. The economy isn’t turning around quick enough and people are still in search of stable jobs.

Residents looking for work can contact the Salvation Army because Holt said they’re already prepared to hire bell ringers.

“We have 19 locations with people there up to 13 hours a day,” Holt said. “I try to hire people that have lost their job and need something to get them through the holidays.”

Holt said she does not have nearly enough applications for Red Kettle bell ringers, but knows many people are looking for work. Getting a temporary job as a bell ringer may pay off in the long run, too.

Holt said she knows several people and has heard of others who have been bell ringers at various stores and received jobs there after the holidays were over.

“It really works out in the end,” she said.

College students might also find a good match in working as a bell ringer, especially those who work at their college campus. It’s a job to get them through the holiday season while the campus is closed. High school students 16 and older can sign up to volunteer for a bell ringer position. The Salvation Army said they will sign off on volunteer hours for community service if the school accepts the hours.

Holt said she is looking to recruit organizations, clubs and church groups to volunteer at bell ringing stations.

Bell ringers start ringing the second week of November, so Holt said she’s getting anxious about placing people at donation stations.

“It’s getting down to the wire, so I’m concerned,” she said. “That’s how we’re able to do Christmas.”

Money collected from bell ringing goes to feed families Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners. More than 4.5 million Americans are provided holiday meals annually.

The Salvation Army is also looking for volunteers to come in and put food boxes together, as well as the Angel Tree angels, which have to be constructed individually by hand once the family’s information is printed.

The Salvation Army is located at 111 S. Anglin St. in Cleburne. Angel Tree applications must be filled out in person from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. through Friday and from 4-8 p.m. Oct. 17-28. To ask about job or volunteer opportunities, call 817-558-1296. Volunteers may also sign up online at