TULSA, Okla. — The Salvation Army is on a mission to raise $725,000 by Christmas Eve, and it's counting on Green Country to help.
In this season of giving, a group of Oklahomans has made giving back tradition.
"We're active ONEOK and Oklahoma Natural Gas retirees," says Brad Ballard, President of the ONGOERS group.
Even though they're done with their day jobs, year after year, the ONGOERS gladly give their time to help the Salvation Army's Red Kettle Campaign.
READ MORE: Three anonymous donors are matching donations through the rest of the campaign up to $30,000— to make a donation to be matched DONATE here.
"It makes me feel like I'm contributing and helping people, and you can't do that sitting in your recliner," says ONGOER volunteer Sharon Park.
So, ringing the bell has become a passion project for this group. They've been operating this post at the Reasor's at 41st and Yale for the past five years.
"The kids are the most fun. They get really excited when parents give them money for the bucket," says ONGOER volunteer Kelly Park.
The Salvation Army Kettle campaign has been around since the 1890s. The organization tells us, the Red Kettle Campaign is the oldest annual charitable campaign in the United States. The money donated here funds all sorts of programs in our community.
"The Salvation Army is all about doing the most good, and because of the Red Kettle campaign, we can do that," says Jenny Swyden, PR Manager for the Tulsa Salvation Army.
While we see the kettles this time of year, the money raised now supports the Tulsa Command's work all year long. From disaster relief to homeless prevention, to the Center of Hope, which is the largest emergency shelter in the area.
"We also have five girls and boys clubs, so these are places where kids can pursue their passion, learn new things, create new dreams, and it's a safe place for them to go," says Swyden.
The Salvation Army tells us it helped nearly 8,800 children while serving over 35,000 individuals in Green Country last year. This year it's seeing the need for its services grow.
"For the first time, people have to ask for help, and it's something they haven't had to do before. We just want people to know that the Salvation Army is here to help anybody and everybody we can," says Swyden.
That's one of the many reasons volunteers like the ONGOERS step up to help. "It gets me into the Christmas spirit," says Sharon Park.
Donations make a difference too. "People might think putting a couple of quarters in the red kettle doesn't do much, but it does. It all comes together and makes a huge impact in the community," says Swyden.
The Salvation Army Red Kettle campaign makes sure hope marches on this holiday season and into the New Year.
2 News Oklahoma and 2 Cares for the community are proud to partner in the Salvation Army's Red Kettle Campaign. We will be hosting a Red Kettle in front of 2 News Oklahoma located at 3701 South Peoria Ave in Tulsa for you to stop by and make donations Thursday, Dec. 16 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
You can also drop off donations in kettles around town or donate to a virtual kettle here.
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