The Salvation Army hosted its annual Red Kettle Kick-Off this year at Brookshire Brothers Gaslight, setting its fundraising goal at $145,000.

“We’re excited about this year,” Capt. Cavon Phillips said. “We’re excited because we have expectations — expectations that we will do very well because the need is great in Lufkin this year.”

He said they are excited to have the support of everyone present and of everyone in the county. He welcomed to the microphone Mayor Bob Brown, who read a proclamation and also thanked many.

“I want every one of us to know that on this day we kick off what will be Angelina’s success and the filling up of the kettles, where we can feed and clothe those who need our help,” Brown said. “The best way to do that is every time you walk by one of these, just drop a coin or two in it. Anything you do will be appreciated, and we thank both captains for being here and being part of this.”

The campaign runs from Nov. 20 through Christmas Eve. Phillips said last year they went over the goal of $125,000, and he knew the need was greater, so he hopes to exceed the goal of $145,000.

“Some people who used to donate to The Salvation Army have become our clients due to the pandemic,” Phillips said. “So, yes, we are in great need of your support to help The Salvation Army do the most good. Doing the most good is not a boastful slogan that The Salvation Army uses, but we strive every day because we see it as a promise to the community in which we serve.”

Brookshire Brothers partnered with The Salvation Army again this year to match donations given from 10 a.m. to noon during the kick-off. Melissa Crager, public relations and corporate responsibility manager, said the partnership fits right alongside the corporation’s mission.

“Brookshire Brothers is all about being good people, selling good food and doing good deeds, and when we have the opportunity to partner with an organization like The Salvation Army that gives back to the community and helps us fulfill our mission, it’s always a blessing and it’s always a good thing,” Crager said.

The Central High School band also was present to perform classics like “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree.” Director of bands David Velazquez said this is the first time the band has made it to an event since the pandemic hit.

“In spite of all the stuff that’s going on, I think it’s good, one, to have the kids out here in the community and, another thing, to show them that we’re all unified in bringing cheer and helping those who are less fortunate,” Velazquez said.

Those who would like to volunteer their time to serve as a ringer can call The Salvation Army at 634-5132 or visit RegisterToRing.com.

Those who don’t carry cash can visit SalvationArmyTexas.com/Lufkin or use their phones through Apple Pay to scan the code on the signs or Google Pay to bump their phones against the signs.

“There’s many opportunities where you can help The Salvation Army,” Phillips said. “You can help us monetarily, but at the same time, you can help us by giving of your time to come and ring the bell.”

The event ended by everyone joining with the band in singing “We Wish You a Merry Christmas.”

Grace Juarez’s email address is grace.juarez@lufkindailynews.com.