When they’re ringing the bells tomorrow, folks with the Salvation Army corps ”“ on both sides of the turnpike ”“ are hoping to hear a responding whisper of paper currency passing into the kettle, or the jingle of change.

Thursday is Kettle Blitz Day for Salvation Army corps across northern New England, where all of the corps in the communities they serve in Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont are gearing up for a big day so they can help their neighbors all year long.

Both Lt. Erin Smullen of the Sanford Salvation Army and Maj. Beverly Smith of the Old Orchard Beach Salvation Army say not only are requests for Christmas help increasing, but the kettle collections are in a bit of a lull.

The kettle collections are the major annual fundraiser for the Salvation Army, which uses funds collected in the kettles to help others all year-round.

All of the donations ”“ from there merest jingle of pennies from a child all the way up to folded bills pushed through the kettle slot ”“ are welcome and appreciated, they say.

Smith, of the Old Orchard Beach corps, which serves five committees around Saco Bay ”“ its home community along with Saco, Biddeford, Arundel and Dayton ”“ said last year, the demand for heating oil assistance was so great, it made for a bit of a lean summer. And, she said, about 200 families have applied for Christmas assistance this year.

In Sanford, Smullen said the corps helped 70 families with Thanksgiving, and that more than 80 have applied for Christmas help. Donations are short of the goal, so far, and demand for services is up, she said. The corps serves Sanford and several surrounding communities.

Region-wide, according to a statement from the northern New England division, kettle income is lagging. The Kettle Blitz was designed to draw attention to those the organization serves ”“ individuals and families struggling to survive ”“ and the help provided by the Salvation Army with food, clothing and toys for children at Christmas.

The Kettle Blitz is a competition among the corps in the northern New England region. Smith, in a prepared statement, said each command unit chooses one of their kettle stands to be “blitzed” on the specified day and hours. The unit that generates the most income at that kettle will win a monetary award to be used for their local operations.

The Sanford corps will be at Walmart in south Sanford from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Thursday for the Kettle Blitz.

The Old Orchard Beach corps will be posted at Market Basket in Biddeford from 10:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Thursday. That evening, starting at 5 p.m. at the same location, the Young People’s Salvation Army Brass Band of Old Orchard Beach, under the leadership of advisory board member Ian Anderson, will present a 90-minute concert of Christmas carols.

— Senior Staff Writer Tammy Wells can be contacted at 324-4444 (local call in Sanford) or 282-1535, ext. 327 or [email protected]

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