Salvation Army prepares for first freeze, bell ringing and gift giving

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ABILENE, Texas (KTAB / KRBC) – Salvation Army staff are prepared to house more than one hundred guests as the first freeze of the season rolls in Wednesday night.

When Noel Melecio blew into town from the Windy City, he didn’t think Texas would be so cold.

“I didn’t pack any clothes or nothing for this,” said Melecio.

But at the Salvation Army, where he’s been for several days, he found a warm bed, a warm meal and warm hearts.

“In other places they don’t have that, what do you call it? Compassion,” said Melecio.

He’s just one of the several dozen expected to camp out at the Butternut facility on Wednesday evening as temperatures drop below freezing.

“We’ll on average have anywhere from 60 to 70 with us,” said Salvation Army Captain Joshua McKain.

McKain says that even if all 100 beds are occupied, the staff will accommodate everyone.

“If we run out of beds we’ll have plenty of cots to set out in the foyer if need be,” said McKain.

The winter months are a big time for the Salvation Army, not only for those in need of shelter but also for raising funds to support them.

The organization is preparing for its annual Red Kettle campaign, which is to officially begin in November.

For the first time volunteer bell ringers will be able to sign up for shifts online.

“They can just visit ReadyToRing.com and then search for Abilene,” said McKain.

The Salvation Army is getting ready for another yearly yuletide tradition, its Angel Tree toy donation drive.

Shelley Futrelle with the Salvation Army knows first hand the impact the tree has on the children it serves.

“When I woke up that morning I had a Barbie and a sweater. I don’t know where they came from, well I do now but I didn’t at that time. It really meant something to me to have some gifts under the tree,” said Futrelle.

The final sign up for the Angel Tree is Thursday, November 7th from 4-7 p.m. at the Salvation Army gymnasium.

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