HOW TO VOLUNTEER
Go to ringbells.org to volunteer as a bell ringer for the Salvation Army.
IF YOU GO
The Salvation Army of Cleveland, Tenn., will start its Christmas Campaign today at Bradley Square Mall. The program will begin at noon.
Christmas carols rang from center stage at Hamilton Place mall Friday as the Salvation Army started its 2011 Christmas Campaign.
"We're here tonight to usher in a season of giving," said Salvation Army Maj. Al Newsome as the Jericho Brass Band completed playing "O Little Town of Bethlehem."
Volunteers painted Christmas ornaments on children's faces. Pinky the Clown passed out candy to the crowd. The Rock City Four Barbershop Quartet sang. And Salvation Army officials encouraged onlookers to give to its red kettle drive and participate in its Angel Tree campaign where donors are asked to select a name from a Christmas tree and purchase a gift for the person.
It's been 13 years since the first Salvation Army campaign began at the mall, said Hamilton Place spokeswoman Catherine Wells.
People needing assistance through the Angel Tree program increased from 3,300 in 2010 to 3,670 this year. And Angel Tree registration is still going on in Cleveland, Tenn., said Kimberly George, the Salvation Army's director of marketing.
The Salvation Army of Cleveland will start its Christmas Campaign today at Bradley Square Mall at noon.
The economy and the April storms have led to an increase in the people who need assistance, officials said.
"The Salvation Army is still serving storm victims and now we're going into Christmas," said George. "We need the public to volunteer."
Helping another person is a good way to bring Christmas cheer, said Cheryl McCrumb, who dressed as Pinky the Clown.
"If everybody contributes a little, then a lot of people will be blessed," she said.
Hamilton County Mayor Jim Coppinger said he is honored to serve as the Salvation Army's 2011 honorary Christmas chairman.
"Over the years having been the fire chief of the city of Chattanooga, I've watched them do so much good in the community helping burned out victims," he said. "This is a great opportunity to give something back to this organization."
Salvation Army Capt. Joe May ended the ceremony with a prayer.
"Let people see this as not just material assistance, but expressions of God's love," he said.