Members of the Salvation Army had two reasons to celebrate on Tuesday, as they announced record fundraising results from the annual Tree of Lights Christmas Campaign and marked the one-year anniversary of the Family Store's new location at the Steamboat Bend Shopping Center.
The community effort kicked off just before Thanksgiving, and 456 volunteers contributed 957 volunteer hours throughout the Hannibal area. The crowd in attendance at the Family Store cheered when they saw that the campaign funds didn't just exceed the $105,000 goal — the results were a new record of $108,308.
Major Andy Miller said the campaign provides between 35-40 percent of the annual income for community outreach like food and clothing distribution, disaster relief, rental assistance and the Pathway to Hope program that helps area residents find ways out of poverty.
Miller thanked everyone for donating money, toys and time that assisted residents in Lewis, Marion, Monroe, Ralls and Shelby counties. Food baskets were given to 755 area families and 1,428 children received toys in partnership with Toys for Tots of Northeast Missouri. The Salvation Army also assisted Pike County residents during the event.
Inside the Hannibal Salvation Army Family Store, Tree of Lights Campaign chairs Pat and Connie Benson unveiled the campaign sign to a round of hearty applause. Pat Benson said a dedicated community effort made the campaign a success.
“Everybody just came together — and I think when you look at the time of the year it is... many people out there had a very special Christmas because of the efforts of so many who helped,” he said. Miller shared in Benson's feeling of excitement.
“What a wonderful thing to see here in Hannibal and Northeast Missouri, just the great support of the people,” he said.
Miller said they “took a chance” by raising the 2018 campaign total by five percent, and he commended the efforts of Salvation Army Advisory Council members, the Bensons, Auxiliary Captain Mika Roinila and all of the volunteers who helped out during the campaign. Miller was also enthusiastic about the Family Store's milestone, pointing out how the increased space and accessibility has made a local impact over the past year.
“It's the first anniversary,” he said. “This day a year ago, we came to this building here, which shows our intentions to be really open and out there to make a difference in Hannibal and the five counties we serve in this area.”
To volunteer or donate to the Hannibal Salvation Army, please call 573-248-8008 or text “DONATEHANNIBAL” to 41444.