Donor to match Red Kettle funds Dec. 14
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Donor to match Red Kettle funds Dec. 14

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Anyone dropping $20 in cash or check into Salvation Army red kettles in Linn and Benton counties on Dec. 14 will see their donations grown to $100 up to a total of $20,000 for the day, according to Lt. Charles DeJesus.

DeJesus said the donor wishes to remain anonymous, but he hopes this can become a mid-valley tradition.

“It’s especially important this year because Thanksgiving was so late,” he said. “There are six fewer days between Thanksgiving and Christmas, and we have a goal of $120,000 in our Linn and Benton counties service area. We’ve raised $21,000 so far, so we have a ways to go.”

The donations are used to help support numerous Salvation Army programs, such as youth creative arts.

“We are able to purchase cornets for $89 through the national Salvation Army,” DeJesus said. “They are made of plastic, but they sound extremely good.”

Some 21 kettles in both counties will be placed in front of businesses such as Bi-Mart, Walmart and Fred Meyer. On average, DeJesus said, donations feed 13 people for every 60 minutes of bell-ringing. State Rep. Shelly Davis, R-Albany, will be ringing the kettle bells from 10-11 a.m. at the Hobby Lobby at Heritage Mall. 

Thanks to a new program, donations can also be made through a smartphone app.

“Donors can scan the bar code on our advertising materials or use their phone’s camera on some phones and donate,” DeJesus said.

Making music

The 37-year-old DeJesus credits the organization as a positive influence in his own life. 

“My wife and I both grew up in abusive homes,” he said. “I grew up in El Cajon, California, and there were many types of abuse in our home, but it was getting involved with the Salvation Army youth programs when I was a child that saved my life.”

DeJesus learned to play the cornet through the Salvation Army, and that skill took him to the Rose Bowl and the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, Utah.

“I became involved in the youth leadership program and then the youth discipleship school, where I trained to become a youth pastor,” he said.

DeJesus met his future wife, Dawn, also a lieutenant with the Salvation Army, in her hometown of Schenectady, New York, where he was working as a youth ministries director. They have two children: a son, Kaleb, 8, and a daughter, Jaye, 2. They moved to Albany in June 2018 after serving in Medford for two years.

The local Salvation Army’s youth music program includes Luis Reyes, 17, who performed at the Rose Bowl parade last year.

“Luis, myself and Krystae Oeder, 16, are members of the Salvation Army Cascade Divisional Band,” DeJesus said.

A community fellowship band rehearses under the direction of Ken Collins at the Salvation Army Center at 345 Columbus Ave. SE at 7 p.m. Thursdays. It is open to anyone who can play a brass instrument and read music.

The band also performs at the Sunday worship service at 11 a.m.

Other ways to help

The United States has 7,600 Salvation Army units, with programs serving more than 30 million people annually. The organization also works with 130 foreign countries.

“The Salvation Army has a long history in Albany, going all the way back to 1887,” DeJesus said. “In Albany, we work with very little and do a whole lot of good.”

DeJesus hopes he and his small staff can work with other nonprofits to share their synergies.

The short holiday season has also affected the Salvation Army’s annual Angel Tree program.

“We could really use more toys for the Angel Tree,” DeJesus said.

Name tags in the shape of angels are available at Heritage Mall, Walmart and the Historic Carousel & Museum in Albany. Each decoration includes a child's first name, age and gender. New clothing and toys are needed. Gifts can be returned to the Heritage Mall office, a barrel near the customer service desk at Walmart, and next to the Christmas tree at the Carousel.

The Salvation Army also provide women’s and men’s ministries, Christmas assistance, back-to-school assistance, a food pantry, utility payment assistance, Christian education and more. The local annual budget is $766,000.

To learn more about the Salvation Army, visit www.albany.salvationarmy.org or call 541-928-4774.

Contact Linn County reporter Alex Paul at 541-812-6114.

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