Salvation Army readies for its busiest time of year with Thanksgiving dinner, bell ringing

JR Ortega By JR Ortega

Nov. 17, 2013 at 5:17 a.m.

Laura and Mark Martin have lived in Victoria for a year, but it has quickly become home.

The husband and wife captains of the Salvation Army in Victoria, who are entering their second holiday season with the local nonprofit charity, are expecting a larger turnout than their first year at the organization's Thanksgiving dinner Nov. 28.

Laura Martin said last year brought out 96 volunteers with 288 total volunteer hours. They also served 221 meals.

"It was a really good response, and we appreciate it so much for them to give their time on the holiday," she said.

The lunch this year will consist of turkey and all the fixings as well as salad, dessert and sweetened and unsweetened tea.

The Martins are working with area bakeries for desserts.

Already, Martin has received several volunteers for the dinner, which begins at noon. Volunteers will be needed from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Volunteers are always needed, she said.

"We appreciate everyone who comes," she said. "We're helping others."

But this time of year is more than just Thanksgiving lunch, Martin said. She is also working on her Angel Tree program.

Martin is dropping off about 400 angels to 15 locations in Victoria. Each paper angel has the name of a person - with ages ranging from children to the elderly - in need during the holidays, she said.

There are two types of angels, she said, ones with name and others without names. The ones without a name are for recipients who wish to remain anonymous but will contain identifying information along with the type of gift the person needs or wants.

People who select an angel will purchase a gift for the person and will drop it off at the Salvation Army, Martin said.

The holidays, she added, are the charity's busiest time.

"We stay really busy," she said. "We try to do what we can to help the people of this community."

Martin can't do it alone.

Her husband, Mark, is in charge of assigning and scheduling the Salvation Army's bell ringers.

He has been a bell ringer since 1989.

Because Thanksgiving is later this year, the bell ringers will start Wednesday instead of the day after Thanksgiving, he said.

So far, he has 14 confirmed locations, including the two Wal-Marts, all four Walgreens and Hobby Lobby.

He needs volunteers to ring the bells. Some community organizations have volunteered to provide ringers.

"I could use just about anyone," he said.

Mark Martin expects he will be ringing bells this year from 9:30 a.m. until about 9 p.m. each shift, but if he had more volunteers, he could break up the schedule more, he said.

Despite the stressful time, he said, bell ringing has really shown him how giving the community is.

He's even had someone drop in $500, and another time, someone wrote a $1,000 check, he said.

"I just go out there and try to do the best I can," he said.



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