FORT WALTON BEACH — The Salvation Army in Okaloosa and Walton Counties announces the launch of its annual Christmas Campaign to raise funds to help those who continue to struggle in Okaloosa and Walton counties, along with those impacted locally and displaced by Hurricane Michael.


The public is invited to help “Ring in the Season” at the Red Kettle Kickoff event on Saturday, Nov. 23, at 10 a.m. in the Dillard’s Court area of Santa Rosa Mall. Publisher Tim Thompson of the NWF Daily News will serve as the honorary chair of this year’s Campaign, and the event will feature music from The Beach Brass and Salvation Army Music School students. It will also mark the beginning of the Angel Tree Gift program, with over 1,000 local children available for sponsorship this year.


The Salvation Army’s Christmas Campaign includes the Empty Stocking Fund in continued partnership with the NWF Daily News, as well as direct mail appeal and the highly visible Red Kettles, a holiday tradition that has served as a symbol of good will for more that 100 years.


The Salvation Army in Okaloosa/Walton hopes to raise $200,000 in the Red Kettles and $100,000 in the NWF Daily News’ Empty Stocking Fund to help sustain the vital programs and services that help needy people in their daily struggle for survival.


“The Christmas effort is the result of many partnerships within the community,” says Lt. Monica Rojas. “This year, we are pleased to be partnering with Catholic Charities and the Matrix Community Center to maximize the Angel Tree efforts.”


The Kettle Campaign is possible because of businesses like Publix, Walmart, Sam’s Club, Winn-Dixie and the Santa Rosa Mall, who allow the Army to collect locally.


“Of course, it is the generous members of our community who make it possible for us to carry on the work of The Salvation Army through their donations. Because of that generosity, we are able to show compassion and kindness to our neighbors in need throughout the year.”


This holiday season in expected to be one of the busiest yet. Salvation Army officials stress that any contribution will help —and donations of time are accepted as gratefully as donations of money.


“Reaching out to those in need by volunteering to ring bells or to collect food and toys is a wonderful way to connect with the community, to give back, to share blessings, and to be blessed in return,” said Rojas. To volunteer this Christmas season, contact Rojas at 850-243-4531.