Red Kettle Kick Off Begins

This is the first Kettle Kick Off for Salvation Army Captains Eunice and Hank Harwell in Lufkin. They were expecting fewer donations this holiday season because so many people gave money to help Katrina and Rita storm victims last year, but now the Harwells believe they may have underestimated the generosity of East Texans.

Captain Hank Harwell said, "We're very excited because we've encountered the fact that this area is one of the more generous and giving areas that we've been in, in our 12 years of officership. So, we're excited about the opportunities that are here."

The first dollar of the kickoff was put into the red kettle in front of Belk Department Store Friday. All the money collected here stays here. It's the only fundraiser the Salvation Army has, so whatever is collected during the kettle drive will fund the agency's food, clothing, and housing programs for an entire year.

"We raised about $40,000, roughly, last year just in the kettles," said Captain Harwell. "We're hoping to raise about $50,000 this year, and again, that is gonna be impacted somewhat by the number of folks that have given in the past [few months].

Just this week, Target announced it's giving the Salvation Army a million dollars. The store banned the bell ringers and their kettles in 2004 to make its policy against fund-raising consistent at all stores.

You can find the bell ringers at 11 different locations in the Lufkin area, including Belk, Big Lots, Ross, K-Mart, all three Brookshire Brothers, Wal-Mart and Sam's Club.