Greenwood Market Place’s general manager, Derrick Simpson, upped the ante on Councilman Johnny Jennings and then the entire City Council during The Salvation Army’s kettle kickoff Thursday outside the store on West Park Avenue.

The event launched the Army’s 2019 holiday campaign in which shoppers donate by putting cash and coins in red kettles tended by bell ringers outside stores. The Salvation Army started the kettle campaign in San Francisco in 1891, Lt. Jason McMullin told a crowd of supporters and members of the Greenwood High School Band.

The band was there to entertain and provide a drum roll when Lt. Keisha McMullin announced the goal of raising $80,000 in donations.

“When all of us work together, I know we can not only reach $80,000 but we can surpass it,” she said.

Jennings jumped on board. He was there to represent the city by substituting for Mayor Carolyn McAdams, who was attending a funeral.

Kettle kickoff

Susan Montgomery

Pauline White, a Salvation Army volunteer, and Johnny Jennings, a member of the Greenwood City Council, join hands beside a Salvation Army kettle at Market Place. Jennings later sparked a competition for donations involving himself and Market Place’s general manager Derrick Simpson. Simpson challenged the City Council and Mayor Carolyn McAdams to each drop $100 into a kettle. Jennings already has said he will donate $100.

Calling The Salvation Army’s volunteers and staff “angels on earth,” he said, “I don’t have a prepared speech, but I do have a prepared heart.” He then announced he was putting $100 in the kettle. He quickly deducted the donation from The Salvation Army’s $80,000 goal. That left $79,900 to go.

But the amount changed fast when Simpson stepped up to speak. “You’ll never find another community pulls together (better than Greenwood) when they see a need,” he said.

The contribution from the Market Place, representing its employees, would be $300, Simpson said.

Jennings shouted, “$500!” just to add to the show. He later said he was trying to get Simpson to raise his number. Instead, Simpson urged that council members and the mayor each should drop at least $100 into a kettle.

“Y’all come Tuesday to the council meeting and set up a red bucket,” Jennings responded. The council will meet at 4 p.m. at City Hall.

The Greenwood-based Army is putting out kettles at nine locations: Market Place, of course, plus Big Lots, SAVE A Lot, Big Star, JC Penney, Walmart and Walgreens, all in Greenwood; Walmart in Grenada; and Supervalu in Winona.  Civic clubs, social organizations and individuals will be ringing bells beside the kettles, and there’s still time for bell ringers to sign up. Annie Jones, a Salvation Army member, and the McMullins’ daughter Jordan helped at a registration table at the kickoff.

Kettle kickoff

Olander Emmons leads the Greenwood High School Band during the kettle kickoff. The band played holiday music and provided a drum roll for an announcement of the campaign’s $80,000 money-raising goal.

Jones addressed the crowd, saying, “I am so happy the Lord has reached out and put his arms around me and all of you, too.”

One of the civic  clubs, Altrusa International of Greenwood, will have members ringing bells. Its treasurer, Pat Gulledge, explained later Thursday, “Every year, that’s one of our benevolences. We always work with The Salvation Army for ringing the bell and for Angel Tree.”

Angel Tree asks people to pick cards telling about children in need from Christmas trees at publicly accessible locations, including CB&S Bank on West Park, buy gifts for the children and place them under the tree.

The Commonwealth annually works with The Salvation Army by publishing an Adopt-a-Family list, starting at Thanksgiving, and updating it as donors give contributions to The Salvation Army for the families they have chosen.

“For every dollar you donate, you are ensuring the happiness of a family,” Jason McMullin said.

Kettle kickoff

The Salvation Army’s Jordan McMullin, left, and Annie Jones take donations and sign up volunteer bell ringers at the kettle kickoff.

He also said that by 1897, kettle collections were supplying 150,000 Christmas dinners from the West Coast to the East Coast. The Salvation Army now assists 4.5 million in the United States and other countries. He told the group that when they slip money into a kettle in Greenwood, “just know that somebody else is doing it in China, too.”

And perhaps at City Hall. Jennings said, “The biggest problem in the world is poverty and hunger, and faith is challenged. The Salvation Army gives hope.”

Contact Susan Montgomery at 581-7233 or smontgomery@gwcommonwealth.com.

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