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Salvation Army's Christmas in July launched to fill need for help

Sunday - 7/8/2012, 6:00am  ET

Salvation Army in July (Frederick News Post/Adam Fried_)
Salvation Army Maj. Raymond Pruitt collects donations Saturday for Christmas in July outside Colonial Jewelers. (Frederick News-Post/Adam Fried)

Why wait until Christmas?

The red kettles that are the Salvation Army's holiday trademark are now out with bell ringers for Christmas in July.

This first local midsummer fund drive is on, Maj. Raymond Pruitt said, because he has not seen such a need for help in his six years with the Frederick office. Requests for aid are up 10 to 15 percent this summer, compared with years past.

Requests usually drop off in spring, pick up in the fall and peak in the winter, he said.

"Not this year," he said. "It's unemployment, underemployment."

The Salvation Army provides financial assistance, social services, energy assistance, clothing, medicine, seasonal help and camps.

The Frederick Salvation Army's fiscal 2011 budget of $1.1 million spent $706,790 on programs and expenses, $314,634 on 12 staff, and $111,554 on payments to headquarters, according to the annual report.

Saturday, a placard at the Salvation Army thrift store at 919 N. East St. said: "Welcome to Christmas in July -- All clothing $1."

Donated furniture, clothing and knickknacks fill the thrift store. Donations and sales change the inventory quickly, Pruitt said.

"Something new every day," he said.

Christmas in July will continue Friday and Saturday.

Monica Messner, thrift store manager, said the kettle campaign will help remind the public that the Salvation Army operates all year, not just at Christmas.

Volunteers will staff the kettles at selected Frederick County locations from 4 to 8 p.m. Friday and from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday. Pruitt said he could use some more volunteers.

Frederick community support is always strong and reliable, Pruitt said. He hopes the added kettle drive will enable him to fulfill all the requests for help.

"It's going well," he said after two days of the campaign. "We got some positive reactions."