Salvation Army gets early Christmas present

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Southwestern Bell decided to redefine the holiday season Tuesday with its Christmas in July project to help raise donations for the Salvation Army.

"A lot of the time in the summer donations dwindle," said Marsha Haskell, an SBC employee who helped organize the event. "This was a great opportunity to give the Salvation Army a shot in the arm."

The event began with the goal of filling an SBC van with goods donated by employees and the public. The donations and the van would then be handed over to the Salvation Army.

The theme, Christmas in July, was brought to life with plenty of Santa hats, snowman cookies, Christmas trees and a Santa wearing a Hawaiian shirt and posing for photos.

Volunteers not only managed to fill the van with canned goods, clothing and school supplies, they also loaded up two more vehicles with donations for the charity.

"We received several thousand items," said Maj. Michael Thomas of the Salvation Army. "An event like this gives us items we would have had to buy otherwise."

The food donations will go to the Salvation Army pantry. School supplies will be put into packets and handed out to parents at the organization's annual back-to-school fair.

"We probably received donations from every employee and retiree of SBC in the Cape Girardeau area," Haskell said.

They also received boxes of pens and stacks of notebooks from St. Louis technicians who have been working in the area for the last two weeks.

"This is a great initiative," said Karl Karleskint, who has been an SBC engineer for 15 years. "Even my wife and family joined. We went through the neighborhood and collected items."

SBC works with the Salvation Army every year, helping to collect money at locations like Hobby Lobby, but this is the first year it has organized a summer event.

"We're very proud and honored to represent the Cape Girardeau community," Haskell said. "We've seen amazing generosity."

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