Angels Among Us

Salvation Army celebrates three-year high in Red Kettle contributions at Fitchburg Volunteer Appreciation Dinner

David MacDonald named Volunteer of the Year and Fitchburg Rotary received Group Bellringing Award

FITCHBURG, MA (February 26, 2016) – Over 125 volunteers from several organizations in Fitchburg, Lunenburg and Leominster gathered last night to celebrate a very successful Christmas season for The Salvation Army Montachusett Corps Community Center. The Volunteer Appreciation Dinner recognized the dedication of hundreds of volunteers who helped The Salvation Army achieve its most successful Red Kettle Campaign in the last three years.

“No one wants to live in a community where people go hungry, where children are left alone without a safe place to be after school,” said Major Karen Garrett, Commanding Officer of The Salvation Army in Fitchburg. “And Fitchburg, Leominster and Lunenburg all demonstrate an incredible spirit of service.”

FIT_VolAppreciation16_Cake_400x267The dinner, held at the Fitchburg Senior Center, was themed around the “Angels Among Us.”

Salvation Army Advisory Board Chair, Paul Gauvin remarked, “The Salvation Army exists to help others. Tonight’s celebration of service allows us to acknowledge those of you who have come along side us to accomplish that mission.”

The Montachusett Corps Community Center which serves Fitchburg, Leominster and Lunenburg, provides emergency assistance to families experiencing poverty and temporary crisis. Programs like the food pantry, rent and utility assistance help to keep families in their homes and assist seniors living on a fixed income. The Summer Fun program provides nourishing meals and a nurturing environment to children when school is out.

The signature program of the local Salvation Army is the youth court-diversion program, Bridging the Gap Between Youth and Community Services. Major Garret proudly shared, “Bridging the Gap provides life skills and the opportunity to have youthful mistakes dismissed before they become lifelong problems. And we get results as 87% of the adolescents who complete this program don’t reoffend.”

FIT_VolAppreciation16_AnaTorres_400x267In the 150th anniversary year for The Salvation Army, the Red Kettle Campaign raised a record amount just shy of $150 million nationally. Salvation Army Massachusetts Divisional Commander, Major David B. Davis congratulated the volunteers on their hard work, “Fitchburg kept pace with these record-setting numbers, raising over $80,000, its highest total in three years and 100% of those funds remain in the local community to help neighbors in need.”
FIT_VolAppreciation16_Rotary_400x267Several groups were highlighted for their participation in the Red Kettle Campaign. The top awards of the night included Ana Torres who received the Top Kettle Award and the Fitchburg Rotary who received the Group Bellringing Award for raising the most funds.

The final award of the night went to local contractor, Dave MacDonald, who was named Volunteer of the Year. MacDonald has volunteered with the organization for over 32 years and organized five successful boot drives along with numerous other initiatives to help local residents in 2015.

FIT_VolAppreciation16_DaveMacDonald1_400x267“By a show of hands, who felt good on Christmas morning knowing that what you did helped children have a brighter Christmas?” an emotional MacDonald asked the crowd. Almost every hand in the room went up. That makes perfect sense as 866 children were provided with over 6,000 toys. MacDonald said, “This award is for everyone here who gave of their time to help someone less fortunate.”

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