Tanner Salyers and Capt. Christine Moretz stand on either side of a Salvation Army red kettle. Moretz holds a proclamation.
Christine Moretz, right, holds a proclamation declaring Nov. 17, 2023, as "Salvation Army Day" in Mount Vernon. Tanner Salyers, city safety-service director, presented the proclamation at the annual Red Kettle campaign kickoff luncheon. Credit: Submitted

MOUNT VERNON — The bells will start ringing today for The Salvation Army’s annual Red Kettle campaign.

Bell ringers will be at the WalMart entrances today. The day after Thanksgiving, Nov. 24, you’ll also find them at Baker’s IGA, Kroger, and, if there are enough volunteers, Big Lots.

Capt. Christine Moretz said this year’s theme, “Love Beyond,” continues the 2022 theme.

“Together, we love,” she said at a kettle kick-off luncheon on Friday.

We love beyond despair, job loss, eviction, homelessness, hunger, inflation, and even beyond Christmas, with a “love that goes beyond ourselves, every day.”

“This holiday season is full of joy for many of us; however, there are also many who continue to battle the challenges and storms that this life brings,” Moretz said. “Need knows no season.”

Capt. Christine Moretz, center, places the first donation of the 2023 Red Kettle campaign into the kettle at a kick-off luncheon on Nov. 17, 2023. Credit: Cheryl Splain

Moretz said that as people face new challenges and hardships, they question whether anyone loves them. The answer is yes.

“The Salvation Army continues to stand by, ready to come alongside and see possibilities for those who cannot see a way,” she said. “… We stand ready to bring hope and salvation to the world.”

Moretz said love does not discriminate nor pick and choose. It runs toward people; when darkness prevails, it does not flee.

“Love isn’t pro this or pro that, but it is proactive,” she said.

For 156 years — and 136 in Mount Vernon — Moretz said The Salvation Army has loved all who have felt lost.

“That is so hard to do sometimes, but we have to love — love beyond,” she said.

“That is why we ring the bells.”

‘Salvation Army Day’

Austin Swallow Credit: Cheryl Splain

Advisory Board member Austin Swallow noted it “takes a lot of hands, a lot of volunteers” to pull off the kettle campaign.

“We as an advisory board are grateful to work with the Captain, to work with the folks in Cleveland to help this community,” he said. “We wear many hats, but the service we provide to the Army is very special.”

Swallow read the Army’s theme verse, I Peter 4:8, which states, “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers a multitude of sins.”

“People come into this door with a multitude of sins — they have needs,” he said. “We do our best to meet those needs, not with condemnation, but with love.

Credit: Cheryl Splain

“It’s a joy to watch people come and participate and give of themselves … and do what the Army’s all about.”

Board secretary Richard Sleeman coordinates the campaign volunteers and kettle locations.

He said his favorite thing about ringing the bells is seeing an adult give a child a coin to drop in the kettle.

“To me, that’s a really important thing,” he said. “What that adult is doing is teaching that child the importance of giving.”

Mount Vernon Safety-service Director Tanner Salyers read a proclamation recognizing Nov. 17, 2023, as “Salvation Army Day in Mount Vernon.”

The proclamation honored the Army’s history of helping the homeless and providing for area residents’ spiritual and physical needs.

Richard Sleeman

Moretz said the Army raised enough money last year to sustain services to those in need. However, she said the need for support continues. This year’s goal is $85,000.

She kicked off the 2023 donations by placing a check in the kettle. The check was from a disabled individual who wanted to help.

“We are so blessed,” she said.

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