The local branch of the Salvation Army is in the eye of the Thanksgiving tornado – gathering donations, swirling turkeys, pies and stuffing into gift baskets and organizing the whirlwind of basket deliveries to families in need from Walker to Lone Pine and beyond next Monday.
And, in the midst of the Thanksgiving rush, the Salvation Army is preparing for the Christmas holiday which will include distributing more food baskets along with clothes and gifts to needy families.
Envoy Tim Brown of the Bishop Corps of the Salvation Army said need has not necessarily grown since last year, with about the same number of baskets to be distributed as in 2010. But Brown did say there is a disturbing growth in area’s homeless population, especially of single mothers with children recently seeking shelter assistance as the temperatures outside shrink.
“There are a lot of people out there hurting,” Brown said. “We’re struggling to keep up with demand.”
The Salvation Army’s food pantry in Bishop is pretty bare, according to the volunteers at the facility on West Line Street, and it is getting ready for its biggest food distribution of the year.
To combat hunger and the cold – some of the enemies of holiday cheer and a healthy life – the Salvation Army is teaming up with various organizations and businesses in the area with the hopes of warming hearts and filling bellies and the bottom of Christmas trees with presents.
The Bishop Elks Lodge is one of the Salvation Army’s major allies in the local battle against hunger and destitution. Along with generously lending its massive hall as a place to organize and fill the baskets, the Elks also gave a $1,000 to the Salvation Army to purchase the staple of the upcoming holiday – turkeys. The baskets, for Thanksgiving and Christmas, include turkeys, potatoes, stuffing mix, vegetables, rolls and, of course, a pie.
Brown explained that Thanksgiving is pretty much a “done deal” with the logistics of delivery left to be completed, but he said the Christmas drive will hit the ground running very soon with a cornucopia of events and opportunities for the community to give and volunteer.
The very visible, and even more audible, Red Kettle Campaign started in 1891 will begin in Bishop promptly on Black Friday, Nov. 25, the day after Thanksgiving. Brown said bell ringers are always in need for two-hour shifts from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Nov. 25 through Dec. 24.
This year the Salvation Army will also team up with Kmart and local radio station KIBS/KBOV for a “Coats for Kids” campaign. KIBS will have a live feed broadcast on Saturday, Dec. 3, following the Bishop Christmas Parade to drum up support for the coat campaign. Donation bins for new coats will be at Kmart, or a coat may be purchased at Kmart and donated at the same time. There will also be donation bins at Carl’s Jr. restaurants in Bishop and Mammoth and at the Alta One in Lone Pine. Alta One in Lone Pine is located at 111 Mt. View Dr., open Monday through Thursday from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. and Fridays from 9 a.m.-6 p.m.
Sign-ups for a coat for a needy child will be from from Nov. 28 through Dec. 12.
Kmart will also be teaming up with the Eastern Sierra Transit Authority and the Salvation Army on Dec. 3 to kick off its annual Canned Food Drive. Brown said he’s hoping for a big turnout as he wants the Christmas baskets to be as full of as much food as possible for those struggling in these dire financial times.
Brown said he understand he’s asking a lot of the community.
“It’s a Catch-22,” Brown said, explaining that the same community that is being asked to donate and help out is the same community hurting for assistance because the economy is bad.
“The Salvation Army really relies on the community,” Brown said.
Brown added that ever-welcome monetary donations are always accepted and that “money given locally stays locally.” Monetary donations can be sent to the Salvation Army, P.O. Box 1104, Bishop, CA 93515, or given directly at the West Line Street location in the Town and Country Plaza, or at the Thrift Store in the Smart and Final shopping center on North Main Street. All gifts are tax-deductible and receipts will be given upon request.
For more information, call Brown at (760) 920-7755.