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Photo by Frank Prager
A capacity crowd attended the Alton Salvation Army’s Volunteer Appreciation Luncheon Wednesday, Feb. 17.
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Photo by Frank Prager
Greg Gelzinnis, kettle coordinator for the 2015 Salvation Army holiday drive, served as master of ceremonies for the appreciation luncheon.
ALTON — A crowd of more than 150 people was treated to fried chicken, salad and dessert Wednesday, Feb. 17, at the Salvation Army-Alton Corps’ Red Kettle-Tree of Lights Volunteer Appreciation Luncheon.
In addition to Salvation Army members and volunteers, guests included Alton Mayor Brant Walker, the Salvation Army Board of Advisers and local business, education and government representatives.
Greg Gelzinnis, kettle coordinator for the 2015 holiday drive, served as master of ceremonies for the event. He praised the work of the organization’s volunteers.
“We knew we could attain our goal if each person did their part, and they did,” he said.
Gelzinnis announced that the 2015 Red Kettle Campaign collected $83,588. He said the tally was 30 percent above the 2014 total and 20 percent beyond the organization’s budgeted goal for the year. He added that the number of volunteers in 2015 doubled from the previous year.
The luncheon activities included comments and presentations by Salvation Army Lts. Bryan and Teri Ellison.
“The 2015 campaign was the most successful, not only in terms of money raised, but also in group involvement,” Lt. Bryan Ellison said.
“We are so proud to serve here in this community,” Lt. Teri Ellison said.
The lieutenants made a special presentation to Sam Stemm and Nick Darr of WBGZ radio for more than 50 years of service and support to the Alton Corps of the Salvation Army.
Social Services Director Holly Allen presented special recognition awards to six organizations that played a key role in the Christmas season’s efforts. The organizations were Fountains IV, Alton City Hall, Central Elementary in Roxana, Argosy Casino, Abundant Life Community Church and the law firm of Simmons Hanly Conroy LLC.
“We could not provide services without volunteers,” Allen said. She said more than 2,200 families were helped in 2015.
Gelzinnis also recognized the efforts of four individuals he said were the campaign’s heart and soul. Those recognized were Mike Cleary, David Hickerson, Dane Rockafella and Larry Gross.
Gelzinnis also presented Champion awards to community groups and businesses that achieved significant donations through what he called a “friendly competition” he initiated. Those groups were the St. Paul UMC, the Roxana police and fire departments, Woodman Collision Center, Alton Memorial Hospital, CNB Bank & Trust and the Bush Pilots Motorcycle Club.
The Bell Ringer Award is given to the organization raising the most money during the Red Kettle-Tree of Lights campaign. Advisory Board Chairman Kevin Botterbush assisted Gelzinnis in presenting the award to the Alton-Godfrey Rotary Club, which raised $4,291. Botterbush noted the organization had received the award for 49 of the past 51 years.
The Salvation Army is an international organization and an evangelical part of the universal Christian Church. It states its mission is to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and to meet human needs without discrimination. It was founded in 1865 and has 1.5 million members around the world. The Alton Corps was one of the earliest ones established, having served the area for 127 years.
Gelzinnis concluded the luncheon by pointing out that the registration website www.ringbells.org is up and running and it is not too early to start signing up for this year’s drive.
“If you have a special time or place you want to participate, now is the time to sign up,” he said.
If people do not have a computer or access to one, they can call the office at (618) 465-7764. Gelzinnis said Stacy or Greg will be happy to assist them and welcome them to the bell-ringing family.
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