Oct 8, 2021

What a twinkly night! The Salvation Army celebrated its annual Tree of Lights Kickoff party Oct. 4 at The Cheshire, drawing a 100-plus turnout with business luminaries from around the region and Miss Missouri USA 2021.

Lights shone from the Christmas tree by a fireplace at the party entrance, while soft white lights decked the walls throughout the party like a winter wonderland. Although Christmas is still two and a half months away, the Tree of Lights Kickoff starts The Salvation Army’s holiday season of giving.

The Tree of Lights Campaign is St. Louis’ Christmas Salvation Army tradition, in effect since 1947. A huge Christmas tree is lit in downtown St. Louis, leading up to Dec. 25. Christmas giving and providing for people in need are core to The Salvation Army’s mission.

The Tree of Lights Ambassador, Miss Missouri USA Joye Forrest, energized the crowd with her enthusiasm and positivity, introducing Tree of Lights in the spirit of The Salvation Army.

“Tonight’s event is special because we’re kicking off the kettle season,” Forrest said. “This is a time when people feel joy in their hearts. They feel the cheer of giving. I’m excited to make sure that we not only raise funds to give back, but also share joy and lots of love.”

Representatives from the Tree of Lights Hope Bell sponsors, Ameren, Edward Jones and Schnucks, were in attendance, as were Salvation Army board members and officers, business executives, activists, and north St. Louis’ Christian Hospital president, Rick Stevens, and community leader Malette Stevens, the latter of whom are Chairs for this year’s Tree of Lights.

Rick and Malette enjoyed a blessed night, as they traveled across town after addressing the Tree of Lights crowd for Rick to accept St. Louis County NAACP’s Freedom Fund Community Champion Award.

As is customary with Salvation Army events, corps officers spoke to the crowd. In this case, Lt. Col. Bob Webster and Major Kjell Steinsland did the honors.

“We have so many people who need help in our community, and in order for us to get that job done, we have to start now,” Col. Webster said. “If you understand all it takes to get the job done at Christmastime, we start now.”

This year’s Angel Tree campaign, in which angel children are adopted for people to buy gifts for them, also happens during the Christmas season and was mentioned by Col. Webster as one of this year’s highlights to come.

“Angel Tree is an opportunity for us to help individual kids,” Col. Webster said. “It’s a really cool way to do it. You get a tag. The kid’s name is on the tag. We’ve interviewed all of these people, the families, and they tell us what the kids need.”

Join us Saturday, Nov. 20, from 5 to 8 p.m. for The Salvation Army’s annual Tree of Lights Tree Lighting at Kiener Plaza!

For more information on Angel Tree or Tree of Lights, visit

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