Salvation Army, Wal-Mart Extends Holiday Charity Campaign

The Salvation Army and Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. announced last week that they will double the number of days this year for the annual holiday fundraising campaign in response to Hurricane Katrina.

Recognizing the extensive cost for relief efforts and the rebuilding process following Hurricane Katrina’s aftermath, the Salvation Army and Wal-Mart announced on Sept. 16 that The Salvation Army’s 2005 “Red Kettle Campaign” will be from Friday, Nov. 18 to Christmas Eve at all 3,800 Wal-Mart and SAM’s CLUB facilities.

“We are thrilled at the overwhelming support of Wal-Mart,” said Maj. George Hood, the National Community Relations and Development Director for The Salvation Army in a Salvation Army news report. “This extended presence will give us a unique opportunity to step-up our drives and do the most good for the families devastated by the Katrina tragedy, as well as continue to assist the many people in crisis we help year round.”

The “Red Kettle Campaign” raised $102 million last year with $17 million raised at Wal-Mart and SAM’s CLUBS facilities. The donations raised through the holiday fundraising provided aid for almost 33 million people across the United States.

With the extension of the holiday campaign, the Salvation Army and Wal-Mart hope to receive greater donations to provide for the people affected by the hurricane. The total damaged caused by Hurricane Katrina is estimated to be $162 billion according to Risk Management Solution during the weekend of Sept.10.

As one of the first relief organizations to arrive on the scene, the Salvation Army assisted the affected people the day that Katrina made landfall, and continues to provide aid and care to victims and evacuees. With Wal-Mart’s initial $1 million donation, the Salvation Army was able to provide aid the day Katrina hit the Golf Coast.

“Hurricane Katrina has impacted not only the communities along the Gulf Coast, but so many other communities who have opened their hearts to the thousands of evacuees who are now rebuilding their lives,” said Betsy Reithemeyer, head of the Wal-Mart & SAM’S CLUB Foundation, in a Salvation Army news report. “Many will return and some will choose to build lives in new communities, but all will need our support over the holiday season.

“Due to The Salvation Army’s efforts during this disaster and their long history of assisting those in need, we want to give them every opportunity to fill their kettles of hope.”

In the past three weeks, the Salvation Army has served more than two million hot meals, sent 1,000 officers and employees for relief work in the affected regions, helped 30,000 people in shelters in almost a dozen states, and reunited 8,400 survivors with their families through SATERN (Salvation Army Team Emergency Radio Network).

Since it began in 1865, the 125-year old evangelical Christian organization has been providing a wide range of public services including disaster relief response, assistance for the disabled, aid for the elderly and sick, substance abuse rehabilitation, day care centers, and family and career counseling. Currently, the Salvation Army USA is providing services in approximately 5,000 communities nationwide.