Major Ben Stillwell who, with his wife Major Beth Stillwell, commands the Cape Girardeau corps center, said the money is vital to the center's work all year long. Most of the money is in the form of small donations dropped in the kettles of collectors stationed at major shopping destinations. Without the donations, the center would have to dramatically cut back services, Ben Stillwell said.
"The first thing that would go by the wayside, realistically, are the Meals with Friends program and our Christmas assistance," Stillwell said. "Then very quickly it would impact the emergency assistance and disaster assistance we provide with our canteen."
Last year's Thanksgiving Day meal served 500 people at the headquarters at 701 Good Hope St., and delivered another 400 meals to elderly and disabled who otherwise would not have received a Thanksgiving meal, Stillwell said.
On Thursday, the center will be serving meals from noon until 2 p.m., Stillwell said.
During the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30, Stillwell said, the Salvation Army's Cape Girardeau center provided Christmas help to 933 families representing 2,436 individuals. Another 1,250 children were assisted with clothing, toys and back-to-school supplies, and the meals program served 6,738 meals, he said.
"It is our No. 1 seasonal appeal direct to the public," he said.
The tree for this year's Tree of Lights is at the main entrance to West Park Mall. When the goal is met, Stillwell said, the ornament at the top of the tree will be lighted.
The only other large source of regular support for the Salvation Army is the United Way, which provided $65,000, Stillwell said.
The lighting ceremony for the Tree of Lights took place Saturday, with Chaffee Mayor Loretta Mohorc throwing the switch. Cape Girardeau City Councilman Matt Hopkins represented the city, and Southeast Missouri State University men's basketball coach Scott Edgar also helped tip off the event.
Along with the financial donations, the Salvation Army will be taking applications for participation in the annual Southeast Missourian and Cape Girardeau Jaycees Toybox program, which collects new toys for distribution to families in need.
Applications for Toybox will be accepted until Nov. 30 at the Salvation Army headquarters.
335-6611, extension 126