Christmas Volunteer Appeciation
In celebration of the many generous individuals, business and service groups that gave their time this past Christmas, The Salvation Army of Kent County hosted a virtual volunteer appreciation event on Monday evening.
The Salvation Army set out to make sure “Hope Marches On” for those in need throughout the holiday season and beyond, and the support of volunteers made this mantra truly come to life. Thank you to the Grand Rapids and Kent County community for helping provide help, hope and healing to our neighbors in need this Christmas season.
Volunteer coordinator Treena Gilbert opened the event by collectively recognizing the volunteers that assisted with the Angel Tree Toy Drive. Two hundred and thirty-six individuals donated 1,004 hours to make sure no child went without on Christmas morning.
An Angel Tree volunteer of over five years, Heidi Versluis was honored. She goes above and beyond and embodies the spirit of giving. Heidi volunteers with her son and has instilled a great sense of giving in him. This year, Heidi inspired others to volunteer by bringing her friends to assist with distribution. Beyond volunteering, she connected with The Salvation Army to see what we could do to assist a family she knew that was in need.
PepsiCo and Gordon Food Service received recognition for going above the call of duty with providing volunteers. Both organizations have supplied volunteers in the past, and some of those volunteers go as far back as 10 years. This year, PepsiCo and Gordon Food Service worked together to send a group of 25 employees to help with toy distribution. These enthusiastic volunteers donated over 100 hours of time and were frequently seeking new ways to help. Angel Tree was a rewarding experience for the employees and both companies are already interested in being involved next year. Mike Sitarski from PepsiCo and Peggy Preston from Gordon Food Service accepted accolades on behalf of their companies.
Auxiliary Captains Mika and Grace Roinila from the Fulton Heights Corps Community Center announced the winner of the highly sought-after Golden Kettle award. The Golden Kettle is given to the service group that raises the most funds while bell ringing. This year, 10 groups – which equaled a combined 90 volunteers – vied for the title and a total of $9,956 was raised. The winner, which raised $2,576, was the Golden K Kiwanis Club of Grand Rapids. Generous supporters of the Grand Rapids and Kent County community, the Golden K Kiwanis Club has taken home the award in two of the last three years.
In closing, Divisional Commander Major Glen Caddy delivered a short sermon on hope. The world is full of people with hopes and dreams, and it is also full of people whose hopes and dreams seem too impossible. We, at The Salvation Army, see people every day whose dreams seem too far out of reach. People enter through our doors with faces too afraid to hope. Hope is to the spirit what oxygen is to the body. Hope sometimes needs someone that can change the course. For many people, that person is The Salvation Army. The Red Shield has become symbolic of help, hope and healing. Help leads to hope, and hope restores the ability to dream. If life has a way of damaging dreams, Jesus has a way of bringing them back to life.
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