The Tyler Salvation Army got its annual Red Kettle fundraiser and Angel Tree season started with the Christmas kickoff Friday at the Broadway Square Mall in Tyler.

Salvation Army Capt. Robert Parker, who oversees the Red Kettle program, said the holiday season goal for this year is $400,000. He said the money raised goes toward emergency shelters, recovery efforts and children’s programs.

The donations provide a majority of the local Salvation Army’s operating funds to help those in need, Parker said.

The kettles will be open for donations every Monday-Saturday through Dec. 24

“We’re looking for a successful kettle goal this year. We can’t do this alone. We need an army behind us,” he said.

He asked attendees to encourage friends and neighbors to give generously of their money and time. All the money will stay in the Tyler and Smith County area, he said.

There are 39 locations set to host the iconic red kettles, with local volunteers ringing the bell. This year, there will be QR codes allowing people to donate using electronic pay methods, such as Apple Pay and Google Pay.

Suzi Stein, a Salvation Army advisory board member, recognized the people and organizations serving as kettle sponsors and advocated for gratitude.

“It is too early for Christmas, but it is not too early to be grateful,” Stein said. “This time of year, I’m looking at all the things I’m grateful for.”

Stein said these charitable donations help bring people back into productive lives.

“The Salvation Army cannot do what it does on a daily basis without the community support,” she said.

Dana Hughey, KYTX-CBS 19 anchor, presented a $10,000 check from the Tegna Foundation and CBS 19 as the first donation to the Salvation Army’s kettle drive.

“We’re just thankful to be asked to partner again this year,” Hughey said.

Salvation Army Capt. Nicole Parker, who oversees the Angel Tree program, said there are over 2,000 boys and girls and senior citizens who need a Christmas miracle this year.

Parker was once an angel on the tree in need of a gift on Christmas. She said she knows what it feels like to have her wish come true.

“Every child has a wish,” she said. “(Their wishes are) a variety of small items, but make a big impact in their lives.”

There is also an online directory for people to find an angel they can give gifts.

Other Angel Tree sites in Tyler are both Slim Chickens locations, Chick-fil-A on South Broadway and the Tyler Salvation Army office, 633 N. Broadway Ave. Some area churches will also have trees for donations, she said.

BMW of Tyler also gave a $10,000 check for the Angel Tree program.

KLTV 7 chief meteorologist Mark Scirto expressed the joy of being able to help Angel Tree children and seniors. He’s been working with the program since 1987.

“It turns a Grinch into a very grateful person,” Scirto said.

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