Mike and Karen Roberts are standing near the Hope vehicle, donated by Alton Memorial Hospital and used to provide case management in remote and emergency settings. The vehicle is staffed and maintained with funds raised during the red kettle campaign. (Photo by Captain Cassy Grey)ALTON – The Salvation Army Tree of Lights campaign will kick off at 6 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 17, 2023, during the Alton Main Street Tree Lighting ceremony. The event takes place at Lincoln Douglas Square and includes free trolley rides, a visit from Santa and Mrs. Claus, caroling, hot cocoa and cookies.

A new addition to the festivities will be the Red Kettle bounce house. For those unable to attend the Tree Lighting in person, portions of the event will be streaming live in a cooperative effort between Riverbender.com and WBGZ Radio. Mike Roberts and C.J. Nasello of Our Daily Show! will host the broadcast.

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Salvation Army Madison County Corps Advisory Council Chairman Kevin Botterbush announced earlier this year that local Meteorologist Mike Roberts and his wife Karen will chair this year’s campaign.

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“Our goal is to raise $217,000 through the red kettle campaign,” the Roberts said. “We are humbly asking for gifts - the gift of time and the gift of financial support. We hope to help families without resources enjoy feasts and gifts this holiday season and feel the love of Christ through their community. Through the gift of our faith, we hope to share Jesus with others – especially during this holy season.”

Salvation Army Corps Officers Captains Cassy and Sean Gray are excited to kick off their third area kettle campaign. "Our theme for the campaign is Love Beyond," said Captain Cassy Grey. “While our immediate goal is to provide food, shelter and Christmas baskets for our neighbors in need, our ultimate goal is to guide families toward self-sufficiency through our Pathway to Hope program."

“We truly cannot do it without your help,” Captain Sean Grey added. “Whether you round up at the register, place a gift in the kettle or volunteer to ring bells, your support is deeply appreciated.” The Red Kettle campaign begins at Walmart on November 18 and other locations on November 24, continuing thru December 23. Hours of ringing are from 10 a.m. until 8 p.m.

There will be no bell ringing on Sundays. Please sign up to ring by going to registertoring.com, select the location and enter your information. An estimated 1,500 volunteers are needed to cover all of the time slots and locations. For media inquiries, please contact Capt. Cassy Grey at (701) 955-4556 or cassondra.grey@usc.salvationarmy.org.

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