AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) — The Salvation Army has been helping the homeless in Amarillo for years. The Red Kettle Campaign is one of the nonprofit’s biggest fundraisers.
Major Geraldine Leonard, the Christmas Kettle Coordinator, explained, “We need a big response to it to be able to fund all the programming that we do.”
Leonard says in addition to funding, they also just need volunteers to ring the bells.
“It’s fun, it’s energizing, because it’s not hard, all you gotta do is greet people and say hello, how are you, merry Christmas,” she said.
But the donations need to last beyond Christmas to fund programs throughout the entire year. Here in Amarillo, the main program is sheltering the homeless.
“We serve over 200 folks a night that sleep here, and when it’s cold or hot we have cots that we can put out to add to that, that includes children as well and complete families,” Leonard said.
Major David Atkins, the Corp Officer for Salvation Army Amarillo, says the shelter is almost at capacity. “Right now every night, during this cold spell especially…We’re at 230 every night,” Atkins said. The most the shelter can house is 240.
Atkins has worked for the Salvation Army for years. He says helping those, especially in the rehabilitation programs, is what makes the job fulfilling.
“The success stories there are the ones that warm my heart over and over again. I like to fly fish, and one of the graduates of the program gave me a special fly box that he made, and it has a wonderful tribute for the help I gave him, it’s just very special to me,” Atkins added.
He says he hopes one day in the future, homelessness can be eliminated.
“We’d love to work ourselves out of a job. But we don’t see that immediately. As long as there’s human need, there’s Salvation Army.”