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Salvation Army kicks off kettles

If it seems a little early for the Salvation Army’s red kettles to be out in front of stores, you’re right on the money.

The organization brought its kettles out a week early this year at Farm Fresh stores across the region, having a “Kettle Kickoff” on Friday.

“They gave us an extra week to ring,” Capt. Johnny Anthony of the Salvation Army Suffolk Corps said on Friday at the Farm Fresh on North Main Street in Suffolk, where the organization offered snacks and drinks for customers as part of the kickoff. “They wanted to help more. They actually like having the Salvation Army in front of their stores.”

Customers at Farm Fresh locations across Hampton Roads were so generous last year — $248,000 was collected at Farm Fresh alone, including $34,000 at the two Suffolk locations — that Farm Fresh wanted to increase their efforts, Anthony said.

The collections during the holidays in the characteristic red kettles help fund Salvation Army programs and expenses, including meals for the hungry and utility assistance.

“This is the biggest fundraiser for us,” Anthony said. “When you put a dollar in or a quarter in, it helps keep our lights on and to continue to do our programs.”

The goal this year is $102,000 to be collected in Suffolk, Anthony said.

Kettle locations in Suffolk this year will be at both Farm Fresh locations, Kroger, some ABC stores, Big Lots, Walmart after Thanksgiving and at some Food Lions on select dates.

“It’s that time of the year,” Anthony said. “Everybody knows when the holiday season begins is when you see the kettle out.”

To give online, visit virginiasalvationarmy.org/suffolkvacorp.