QUINCY -- For the sixth consecutive year, the Quincy Salvation Army Tree of Lights campaign hopes to raise more than $400,000.
"It is going to be a real challenge for us," Salvation Army Maj. Andrew "Andy" Miller said. "Our problem this year is that we have lost a couple of locations due to store closures, so we are going to have to work extra hard this year to make up for those kettles. We also know that we are in a town of 40,000 people, and our goal is the equivalent of asking every one of those people to give $10 -- which is not an easy thing to do."
This year's goal of $410,000 was announced Thursday in a ceremony inside the Kroc Center, where Charles and Jamie Scholz, and Jake and Becca Scholz were introduced as this year's campaign co-chairmen. Previous fundraising totals for the annual campaign have been $409,279 (2018), $407,402 (2017), $407,276 (2016), $400,028 (2015), $429,205 (2014) and $393,645 (2013).
Jake and Becca Scholz said they were honored to be asked to lead this year's fundraising effort.
Despite the challenges, they say they are optimistic that they will meet or exceed this year's goal.
"This is a really important fundraiser for the Salvation Army, not just for the Christmas season but for the whole year," Jake Scholz said. "It makes Christmas morning a reality for a lot of children, but it also provides funding for a whole list of programs that are offered throughout the year that help break the cycle of poverty in the community."
For example, more than 2,000 local families received food boxes from the Salvation Army food pantry. The Salvation Army Shelter provided safe housing for 483 people, who stayed a collective total of 5,200 nights in the shelter. Another program were the educational courses that last year in which 881 people enrolled as students. The Salvation Army also helps with utility and rental assistance programs and regularly visits area nursing home residents.
The campaign also makes the annual community Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners possible, while also purchasing toys for needy children.
Miller said he anticipates that most of the money raised during the Tree of Lights campaign will again come from the red kettles, which will be on display outside many Quincy retailers, including Walmart, County Market, Hy-Vee, Big Lots, Hobby Lobby and Walgreens, throughout the holiday season.
Becca Scholz said it is important to remember that every gift, both large and small, can make a lasting change in the lives of others in the Quincy Salvation Army service area, which includes Adams, Pike and Brown counties.
"Every time you put in your loose change, you are maybe helping someone have a Christmas, whether that is a Christmas meal or a Christmas toy," Becca Scholz said. "You are helping to provide shelter, food -- you are helping to provide so many different things for people who are in need in our community."
Those interested in volunteering as a bell ringer are encouraged to go to registertoring.com and sign up.
Miller said, "We have wonderful, wonderful people who have over the years learned and seen what the Salvation Army has done in the community and they decide year after year that they want to be a part of it. In a world that often seems so dark, we are trying to be that beacon of hope to the world."