The Salvation Army’s Hamilton Service Center is in the festive season and preparing for community-wide food box distribution, Christmas toy collection, Angel Trees and bell ringing — and volunteers are needed for it all.
Hamilton Service Center Director Fidelis Temukum said the goal is to spread the spirit of giving and the true meaning of Christmas.
“I have a hundred turkeys ready to go into food boxes,” Temukum said. “We need people to preregister to be sure we give out all the food boxes.”
He has two freezers full of frozen turkeys, ready to thaw and cook, and seven pallets of food with more on the way.
“We have 100 people who need the food,” Temukum said. “We want each family to cook turkeys. We bought turkeys early just in case more are needed — meals are expensive to buy. Super One Food Store is a blessing. We identify the need in the community and they are so generous.”
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Last year The Salvation Army’s Hamilton Service Center gave out fewer food boxes than usual at Thanksgiving, but Temukum said more are needed this year.
“This year, due to inflation, there are more families struggling,” he said. “I’m anticipating 120-130.”
The Salvation Army needs volunteers to help fill food boxes on Nov. 17.
The food box distribution date is Nov. 21 for families who have preregistered. Families can register by visiting the service center at 217 N. 3rd St., Ste. B-2, in Hamilton. He suggests registering before the day of distribution so enough boxes are prepared.
“We want to meet the needs of every single person,” Temukum said. “On distribution day volunteers will check their name and hand them a box. They go home smiling to cook dinner.”
The Salvation Army will need additional volunteers to help with the distribution on Nov. 21.
“We need big, strong volunteers to help carry boxes to cars,” Temukum said. “Thanksgiving is a great time to celebrate families. We are helping people to do that without stress."
The Salvation Army’s Hamilton Service Center will launch its annual bell-ringing program at 10 a.m. on Nov. 22, the day after Thanksgiving food box distribution day and two days before Thanksgiving. As the first bell ringer, Hamilton Mayor Dominic Farrenkopf will ring a bell in his turkey suit at Super One Foods in Hamilton.
“We need a lot of bell ringers,” Temukum said. “We need a lot of volunteers and we do also have paid positions. We really appreciate all the churches, Hamilton High School and other volunteers who step up. Bell ringing is our big fundraiser for the year and what is donated here stays in our community.”
Angle Trees, which swap ornaments for tags featuring written wishes of children in need, will follow the Thanksgiving holiday.
Parents can register tags for their kids online at https://saangletree.org/ (answer “no” to the invitation code question). Community members can then select a tag and fulfill the wishes and needs of the children on the tags they selected. It is anonymous.
The Marine Corps has discontinued its “Toys for Tots” program in the Bitterroot Valley and Temukum said the Salvation Army has stepped up to fill the void.
“We really want every kid to get a toy this year,” he said. “We are hoping community members will come get a tag and get specifics for what the kids are requesting. They will bring the tag back to the office with the items. We will distribute those. We need people to volunteer for that too.”
Meanwhile, businesses and community members are welcome to also donate new, unwrapped toys for the Salvation Army, through Dec. 10. Collection boxes are located at The International Order of Eagles (125 N. 2nd Street) and Ravalli County Credit Union (501 N. 1st Street in Hamilton or 5525 US Highway 93 in Florence).
“We also have a drop box at Super One Foods in Hamilton,” Temukum said. “They can also bring toys to our office. But if someone has an Angel Tag, that needs to come to the Salvation Army office.”
He said the Salvation Army appreciates volunteers, toys and caring.
“We thank all those who are so generous in keeping us running to meet the needs of people in Ravalli County,” Temukum said. “There are a lot of generous people in this valley and we just want to say thank you to them. This is the season of giving and we appreciate those who want to help their neighbors.”
He said the Salvation Army works to meet the needs of people every day.
“The greatest need right now is the number of people coming in and asking for help with their utility bills,” Temukum said. “Especially, since it is so cold.”