Folks at The Salvation Army of Horry County are actively recruiting volunteers for the Christmas season and Major Bret McElroy says there are “all kinds of ways to help,” including manning the main Angel Tree at Coastal Grand mall.
“That’s my greatest need right now,” says Brenda Ryan, executive director of the Salvation Army Boys & Girls Club. She needs one to three volunteers for all mall hours from Nov. 17 through Dec. 16. The mall is open 11 hours (10 a.m. to 9 p.m.) Monday-Saturday and six hours on Sunday. As of Monday, only 75 hours are filled, meaning there are many wonderful opportunities available to help the Salvation Army provide Christmas gifts for the hundreds of children represented by the tags on the tree. Besides the main Angel Tree at Coastal Grand, there typically are satellite trees in two dozen locations around the county. And by the way, organizations wishing to have a tree may contact Ryan.
The annual Angel Tree program kicks off Nov. 16 with a ceremony at 6:30 p.m. at Grand Coastal. The ceremony also launches the traditional Red Kettle drive. McElroy expects to have 22 kettles at several retail locations including the seven Wal-Mart stores. For bellringers at the Red Kettles, McElroy needs clubs or groups to take a block of time at a certain Red Kettle location. The group then schedules its members to “ring the bell” on the date selected. Perhaps your church group or civic club is looking for a way to serve during the holiday season. Ringing the bell and thanking shoppers for their contributions is an excellent way of getting into the Christmas spirit.
The Angel Tree and Red Kettle drives are but two of the ways to help. McElroy says he has a need for “quite a bit of clerical, light work” and volunteers are needed in the distribution center to sort and bag toys. Last month, the Salvation Army held a volunteer recruitment meeting on Oct. 23 and McElroy says “It turned out to be helpful.” It was the first time for such a recruitment effort and likely will be done again. “We have spoken at different church and volunteer groups. We’re pro-active in recruiting volunteers.”
McElroy expects “to serve more than 300 families and 1,200 children this year.” The Salvation Army of Horry County operates four thrift stores, including one in Conway that relocated earlier this year. The move combined the store and administrative offices at Third Avenue and Laurel Street in Conway and allows operations to be more efficient. TSA Boys & Girls Club is on Second Avenue. “We’re asking clients to help through volunteering – and getting a good response. Everybody has been very positive.”
“I don’t think we say ‘Thank you’ enough. We’re grateful to everybody for community support” including gifts to the stores, contributions and volunteers. “Prayer support is very important,” he says. “God’s blessing us.”