Vail Valley Scenery: Red Kettle Tournament raises $30K for Salvation Army | VailDaily.com

Vail Valley Scenery: Red Kettle Tournament raises $30K for Salvation Army

The words "Salvation Army" evoke distinct memories in everyone's mind. Frigid afternoons, I'd be running into Walmart or City Market to pick up my groceries and there he is, bundled up in a stocking cap, heavy mittens, a parka and that evocative crimson apron, ringing a bell in front of that red kettle suspended by a metal hook, like a bucket over a wishing well.

I would rummage in my purse every time I encountered him, shoving a dollar bill or two into the tight slot at the top of the kettle. I wasn't ever quite sure where the money went, but I was sure it was going to someone who needed it more than I. If you're like I was and a little in the dark about our local Salvation Army, then this is for you.

The Salvation Army in Vail started back in 1983 as an emergency help agency for stranded motorists. Oftentimes, Vail Pass was closed and here they were, stuck in the winter with nowhere to go but an overpriced hotel room that they couldn't afford. Back then, the organization was partnered with the Vail Interfaith Religious Foundation and helped out those folks with food, lodging, gas or bus tickets. It didn't take long before it became apparent that much more emergency assistance was needed in the community.

"Salvation Army in Vail started as a totally volunteer-staffed operation," explained Tsu Wolin-Brown, executive director. "Currently, we are a Service Extension of the national Salvation Army, with two full-time staff and hundreds of volunteers."

The Salvation Army still provides emergency assistance to individuals in the work force and their families and links unemployed individuals with resources so that they are able to work and be self-sufficient.

SELL-OUT EVENT

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Recently, they hosted their 13th annual Red Kettle Golf Tournament at Frost Creek Golf Course. The sell-out event raised over $30,000 under the chairmanship of Anne Barnett and Carla Guarascio.

"The Salvation Army is a cause very dear to my heart," Barnett said. "As a child, my step-father married my mother with her six children and we had a few very tough years making ends meet. We received food commodities that were distributed through the local Salvation Army."

In all, 76 golfers hauled out their clubs and their wallets to help the organization. New add-ons inspired the golfers, including a "cash-n-carry" auction where items were available to "buy now" and buyers checked out in a roving "Apple Store." A "Miracle Minute" raised $1,500 in just 60 seconds as the red kettle passed around the room and donors rummaged through their pocket for spare change (or a larger gift) to toss into the pot.

"I always promised my mom that if times ever got better for us that I would give back to families in need," Barnett said. "I began by donating food and money, then moved on to unloading food from trucks into the food pantry and organizing bell ringing volunteers at Walmart. This tournament was just another way to stay involved in an amazing cause."

The Salvation Army is always looking for volunteers and donors. They offer a plethora of opportunities at their location in Avon behind City Market. For more information, visit the website http://www.salvationarmyvail.org or call Tsu Wolin-Brown at 970-748-0704.