The holiday season is one rich with traditions. From a bountiful Thanksgiving meal to times spent with your closest relatives, the time of year that we now find ourselves in is one that sometimes defines itself through excess. Though generosity still runs rampant during this time of year, many do not realize that the holiday season has vastly changed from the humble beginnings and principles it was founded upon.
It was not too long ago, at least in the context of human history, that the holiday season meant sharing what little you had with those who were closest to your or those who were less fortunate. People would muster up everything they had to spread cheer to the many. And while the holiday season is no less festive than in years past, it’s easy to forget its true spirit.
This is not to say, however, that there are no people or organizations that exemplify the original meaning behind this time of year. One such organization that keeps in mind those less fortunate is The Salvation Army.
Founded in 1865 in the United Kingdom, The Salvation Army, a Christian organization, dedicates its time and efforts to help the impoverished all around the world. Though there are many services that this organization is known for, the most visible and popular charity drive it runs is likely the kettle program that collects change from individuals entering/exiting stores.
Major Thomas Morrow, one of Eugene’s Salvation Army Officers, began his journey with the company at a very young age.
“My spiritual journey leading to The Salvation Army started with the gift of a telescope from my very smart older cousin at age twelve,” explained Major Morrow. “As a reclusive introvert I was happier with books and a telescope than with people. I began to question why there appeared to be order in the Universe which led me to searching for spiritual relevance.”
After his initial peak of interest in the program, Major Morrow found that The Salvation Army was the place he wanted to be when he, like many other young men across the nation, met a girl.
“I met this girl while working at McDonald’s in North Portland in the “Summer of 69″,” stated Morrow. “She caught my eye and she went to The Salvation Army Church so one thing led to another and we just celebrated our 40th wedding anniversary.”
His own journey complete, Major Morrow has come a long way since first becoming associated with the Christian organization. In fact, this will be his first year as an officer during the Christmas holiday season. And though he may be new to the kettle bell program, for that is what the fundraiser is known as, Morrow has a deep knowledge of the program, who is involved in it, and how many it helps.
“People who Ring Bells for The Salvation Army have many stories,” explained Morrow. “Here in Eugene we work through Express Personnel Services who hire people who both need work and would like to find personal fulfillment raising funds to help others. In addition we have many wonderful service clubs in our Community, Rotary, Kiwanis , and Lions Club, to name a few who volunteer their valuable time to raise funds during the holiday season.”
Once funds are raised, those who donate can be assured their money is going towards a good cause.
“Funds are used to purchase food for food boxes, vouchers for meat, and gifts for children and folks in nursing homes,” stated Morrow.
“If funds are left over from holiday fund-raising then they are used to help with the community’s needs through a cold winter that continues to impact families in our community,” said Morrow of where all profits go. “Nationally and locally The Salvation Army is able to use about 82 cent from every dollar for direct services.”
The kettle bell fundraiser has become synonymous with the holiday season. Without it, stores would be missing their merry bell ringers that look to provide assistance to those in need. For those who may be in too much of a rush to donate right outside of a store, Major Thomas Morrow made sure to let people know that there are plenty other ways to help the needy during this time of year.
“There are so many great non-profit organizations in our community,” explained Morrow. “Anytime we provide children a chance to give back I believe we are creating a positive future for them.”
The Salvation Army
640 W 7th Ave.
Eugene OR, 97402