A brass ensemble from the Old Orchard Beach Salvation Army plays at the Market Basket grocery store in Biddeford on Thursday. LIZ GOTTHELF/Journal Tribune

A brass ensemble from the Old Orchard Beach Salvation Army plays at the Market Basket grocery store in Biddeford on Thursday. LIZ GOTTHELF/Journal Tribune

BIDDEFORD  — A sure sign of the beginning of the holiday season is the sight of the Salvation Army bell ringers standing next to the iconic red kettle.

As the season progresses, sometimes its good to have a little push to keep the excitement going.

In the Northern New England Division of the Salvation Army, made up of Maine, New Hampshire,and Vermont, that push is the Divisional Kettle Blitz.

Craig Evans, development director for the Northern New England Division of the Salvation Army said the Kettle Blitz was established in 2014 to give a boost to kettle efforts and help generate public awareness of the Salvation Army. This year the Kettle Blitz day was Thursday, and local corps participated in the event by enhancing their kettle drive and reaching out to local media. Some invite special guests to their kettle ringing stations or have musical performances, others may have mascots ringing the bell.

Each corps that participates in the blitz will receive a $1,000 grant from divisional headquarters, and the top three corps in each state will receive additional funds.

Last year about $30,000 was raised division-wide on Kettle Blitz day.

Evans was performing in a brass ensemble Thursday afternoon at the Old Orchard Beach Salvation Army kettle drive at the Market Basket supermarket in Biddeford.

The group performed Christmas songs in front of the store near the checkout lines. Customers smiled and hummed along to the music. “Thank you for playing for us,” said one woman as she slipped a bill into the kettle. “It was quite enjoyable.”

District 43 State Rep. Stedman Seavey, R-Kennebunkport, and District 15 State Rep. Maggie O’Neil, D-Saco, were volunteering their time to serve as bell ringers.

“The Salvation Army does a lot of really great work in our community. I was happy to help,” said O’Neil.

Old Orchard Beach Salvation Army Major Bryan Smith said money raised in the kettle drive goes to support local programs that benefit people in the Saco Bay region.

“When you put a dollar in, expect change,” he said, referring to the Salvation Army community service work.

 The Old Orchard Beach Salvation Army provides Christmas presents for needy families in the area and has a number of year-round programs including a food pantry, community meals, children’s programs, fuel assistance and housing assistance.

Smith said bell ringers are still needed and anyone wishing to volunteer their time can contact the Old Orchard Beach Salvation Army at 934-4381.

— Staff Writer Liz Gotthelf can be contacted at 282-1535, ext. 325 or [email protected] 


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