COLLEGE STATION, Tex. (KBTX) - The Salvation Army kicked off its annual Red Kettle and Angel Tree campaign at the Post Oak Mall on Friday.
The iconic ringing bells outside of shopping malls and stores means the holidays are near. The Red Kettle Campaign is celebrating its 129th anniversary, and Angel Tree is celebrating its 40th. The Red Kettle Campaign raises funds to support people in need year-round, and Angel Tree provides gifts for children at Christmas.
Captain Paul Ryerson said that in 2018, they provided every child with gifts that were signed up for Angel Tree. This year, they set their standards even higher. Captain Ryerson said The Salvation Army is serving 863 families and 2,080 children.
"Families and our local community care and want to make a difference," said captain Ryerson. "You can come adopt a child off the tree and ring the bell; it can make the complete difference in someone's life."
Volunteer Dean Adams is a prime example of how The Salvation Army can change someone's life. Adams checked himself into The Salvation Army's Rehabilitation Center in 1998 for drug and alcohol abuse, and since then, he has been their biggest supporter.
"I know what it's like to struggle, I myself have struggled," said Adams. "There have been years where I myself haven't had a Christmas."
Adams knows how helpful The Salvation Army is, and wants people to know that they're always willing to help.
"The angel tree is a blessing to a lot of the families," said Adams. "Not just families with kids, but regular families who have hard times during Christmas, and it's absolutely awesome."
Adams has given back to the organization that gave him his life back, and he encourages the people of the Brazos Valley to give as well.
Captain Ryerson asked the community to help them meet their goals.
"If you've never done it before, if you've never rung the bell or adopted an angel, I encourage you to let this be the year you try it out," said Captain Ryerson.
Captain Ryerson also wants the public to know that now, at all Red Kettle locations, you don't have to carry change. There is now a way to pay with Apple Pay and Google Pay.