(Memphis) It's a sight and a sound you've no doubt seen and heard -- the ringing of bells for the Salvation Army's Red Kettle campaign.
It's a campaign that is in desperate need of your dollars to help people who would otherwise be forgotten on the streets of Memphis.
Iris Wade is program director of the Salvation Army's Single Women's Lodge.
"The programs help so many women and children who are homeless who are on the street and without the generosity of people, the kindness of people, we wouldn't be able to do what we do and wouldn't be able to exist," Wade said.
You might wonder if your donation, no matter how large or how small, can really make a difference? Salvation Army Area Commander Jonathan Rich says yes it does.
"These donations help us keep our great staff, provide great food each and every day for the homeless that are here," Rich said.
Every dollar donated helps keeps the heat and lights on at the Single Women's Lodge and at their Renewal Place program.
Renewal Place provides housing for chemically addicted women and their children and helps them work towards sobriety, employment and being better parents.
"These programs are so well needed. There's not enough shelter, especially for women without children to accommodate everyone," Wade said.
The Red Kettle campaign is trying to raise $520,000, but donations are only about halfway to reaching that goal this year because of the poor economy, a recent ice storm and fewer days to donate.
"It's a vital service(Salvation Army programs) to this community and the donations people put in the those red kettles help us run this all year long," Rich said.
It's why you can help change and save lives, and it's why many former homeless or drug addicted mothers who've turned their lives around such as Jennifer Jacobs, Dee Cummings, Cassandra Morris and Venita Vaughn and others are willing to share their own stories of despair now turned into stories of hope because your donations to the Salvation Army mean they are not forgotten.
"It's allowed me to heal. I'm learning so much about myself and what God has in store for me and my kids," Jacobs said.
"I was blessed, blessed to be able to get into the Salvation Army," Cummings said.
"I am a changed person today and I am yet changing. I feel renewed because of Renewal Place," Morris said.
"The Salvation Army saved my life. I had nowhere to go and I was going downhill anyway. So, they saved my life(cries). They saved my life," Vaughn said.
Text ‘Memphis’ to 80888.
It’s an automatic $10 donation to the Salvation Army.
The charge will show up on your phone bill.
You can donate online at https://www.onlineredkettle.org/wreg