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Ringing the good news

Testing at the Suffolk Corps of the Salvation Army has resulted in no further positive COVID-19 cases, Capt. Angel Simmons said on Dec. 3.

The corps had to close for about two weeks and cancel or severely curtail its activities after an exposure on Nov. 23. But now staff have tested negative and have begun to get back into full swing, with the corps reopening officially on Dec. 7.

Simmons said the corps saw widespread support from the community as it dealt with the closure.

“The community has been very supportive and patient as we sanitized the building and made sure that everyone remained well so that we can finish our Christmas campaign strong,” Simmons said.

The corps’ inability to have bell-ringers and its iconic red kettles at stores around town was met with nearly $1,000 in donations to its online red kettle campaign, Simmons said. People are still encouraged to give in this way and can do so by texting SalArmySuffolk to 51555 or visiting tinyurl.com/suffolkredkettle.

Simmons and her husband, Lt. Shawn Simmons, will be ringing the bell from 4 to 7 p.m. Dec. 4 at the North Main Street Walmart in response to a challenge from Commissioner Kenneth Hodder, national commander for the Salvation Army. He challenged all corps officers to ring the bell themselves during these hours.

A “Why We Ring” video will also debut live at 3 p.m. Dec. 21 on Facebook and YouTube @SuffolkVACorps.

“After two weeks of no kettles, we are still in need of support at our kettle sites and online,” Simmons said.

Those who have Angel Tree and toy donations can drop them off beginning Dec. 7, and the office will also reopen that day. The soup kitchen at the Salvation Army’s 400 Bank St. location will also resume on Dec. 8.

The toy distribution supported by the Suffolk News-Herald Cheer Fund as well as by Toys for Tots donations is still 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.