BRISTOL – With the approach of the holiday season, the Bristol Police Department, City Hall and the Salvation Army Bristol Corps are gearing up for a season of giving.
“The Salvation Army officially launched its national 2021 Christmas campaign, entitled ‘Hope Marches On,’ and today, the Salvation Army in Bristol is kicking off its Christmas season,” said Salvation Army Bristol Corps Captain Shareena Echavarria. “With more people facing hardship this year, the need to serve the most vulnerable is greater than never. Millions of Americans have been impacted by covid-19 and are experiencing incredible need.”
Shareena said that the Bristol Corps was formed in 1885 and is still committed to meeting the community’s needs. The corps anticipates serving at least 400 families in Bristol Thanksgiving and Christmas food boxes along with gifts for over 700 children.
“In 2020, the Salvation Army of Bristol served over 11,000 individuals, provided over 33,000 meals, served over 700 children and distributed over 8,000 toys for Christmas,” said Shareena.
The Bristol Corps provides youth programs, a Bible teen leadership program, Sunday school, a creative arts and music program, a summer camp, worship services and women and men’s ministries.
“Throughout the pandemic, our soup kitchen and food pantry have remained an essential service for Bristol residents in need and we are committed to raising enough funds this year to continue meeting those needs,” said Shareena.
The captain said an anonymous donor with a love for Bristol will match dollar-for-dollar every donation up to $30,000 to the Salvation Army Bristol Corps this season.
“We are hopeful that the Bristol community will rally together to support our annual effort,” said Shareena. “The Salvation Army is also looking for individual and corporate sponsors for the Angel Tree program.”
To sponsor a child’s angel tag or to host tags in a restaurant for patron and client consideration, contact Shareena directly.
“The mission of the Bristol Police Department is to protect and serve the community with integrity and professionalism. In keep with our mission statement, the members of the Bristol Police Department participate in many events throughout the year to serve those in our community, but it is our annual Christmas toy drive that holds a special place in our hearts and seems to bring out the best in everyone,” said Lt. Mark Morello.
He said that toys collected will be distributed to local families in need by the Salvation Army. Toys can be donated in the Bristol Police Department headquarters’ lobby starting Nov. 12 through Dec. 12.
“The City of Bristol is pleased to partner with the Salvation Army and all of our nonprofit and social service partners,” said Bristol Mayor Ellen Zoppo-Sassu. “We learned last year during covid how important it was to have a strong network here in Bristol. The Salvation Army, St. Vincent DePaul, HRA and so many others stepped forward to make sure that our most vulnerable populations were served. We’re going to continue that partnership…”
The mayor said the City Hall would continue supporting the police department’s efforts in toy donation collection and that city officials would be assisting with the Salvation Army’s kettle collection.
“Our soup kitchen operates Monday, Wednesday, Friday,” said Shareena. “We serve double-lunch portions. We’re seeing anywhere from 30 to 75 individuals every day that we’re open. The need is great and we’re just trying to continue to meet that need.”
The annual red kettle fundraiser runs from Nov. 15 to Christmas Eve. Donation collectors will be outside Price Chopper and Hobby Lobby throughout that time. Donation collectors will be at Stop & Shop and Walmart on Black Friday through Christmas Eve.
“The funds that we raise during that six week period fund us all year round. You’ll never see a red kettle out in the springtime,” said Shareena. “So we really got to do what we can at this time to raise as much as we can.”
She said the Bristol organization was grateful to its anonymous donor and stressed the importance of giving this year.
Fellow Salvation Army captain and Shareena’s husband, Emmanuel Echavarria, said six kettles will be deployed throughout Bristol during the holiday season.
“I think it was a great event and the support from the city is exciting and we’re looking forward to what the season is going to bring,” he said.
For more information, email Shareena.Echavarria@use.salvationarmy.org.