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Salvation Army to close temporarily due to COVID exposure

The Suffolk Corps of the Salvation Army will be closed, and its activities canceled or severely curtailed, for about two weeks due to a COVID-19 exposure, Suffolk Corps Officer Capt. Angel Simmons said Wednesday.

Among the activities that will be limited until Dec. 7 will be bell-ringing at the iconic red kettles at stores around town as the Christmas shopping season gets into full swing. Simmons said they are encouraging electronic donations to help the kettle program make its goal this Christmas.

Simmons said on Wednesday that she learned Monday evening that the person was going to take a test for COVID-19 on Tuesday morning. On Wednesday, she notified the paper of the shutdown.

The building will undergo a disinfecting process, and employees, including Simmons and her husband, Lt. Shawn Simmons, will be getting tested soon.

If their test results are negative, Simmons said, she and her husband will be back in the building next week setting up the toy warehouse for one of the most important seasons on Salvation Army’s calendar — the Christmas season.

A toy distribution, which is supported by the Suffolk News-Herald Cheer Fund as well as by Toys for Tots donations, is set for Dec. 15. Recipients were informed when they applied for assistance earlier in the year that it will be a drive-through distribution, unlike in past years, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Also curtailed is the red kettle program.

“We’re going to have 11 days of no kettles right after Thanksgiving,” Simmons said. In addition to that, some of the busiest kettle locations had already told the Salvation Army they wouldn’t allow bell-ringers this year because of COVID-19.

As a result, one of the Salvation Army’s most important fundraisers will be in danger of not meeting its $110,000 goal this year.

Simmons encouraged people to give online or with their phones. People can text SalArmySuffolk to 51555 or visit tinyurl.com/suffolkredkettle.

Simmons said she and her husband may try to ring the bell in between their other duties if their test results are negative.

“With missing 11 days, we’re going to be behind,” Simmons said. “We definitely need people to try to do online options, and then when we’re back on Dec. 7 at stores, to make sure they give.”

In addition, meals the Salvation Army was receiving during the pandemic to help with its soup kitchens every Tuesday and Thursday will be going to Open Door Church at 816 Kings Fork Road, Simmons said. Anybody in need of a meal can go there. The soup kitchens will resume at the Salvation Army’s 400 Bank St. location on Dec. 8.