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Mormons’ donation comes as corps prepares annual kettle drive
McKeesport Mayor Michael Cherepko helps unload $2,000 in food donated to the local Salvation Army by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. (Tube City Almanac photo)
Local Mormons have donated more than $2,000 in non-perishable food to McKeesport’s Salvation Army.
The gift, from the Pleasant Hills Ward of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, comes as the Salvation Army is worried that this year’s “Red Kettle” campaign may come up thousands of dollars short.
Church members delivered the food gift on Thursday. Jeff Miracle of Mt. Lebanon, president and first counselor of the church’s Pittsburgh West Stake, said the congregation is working to build its relationship with the surrounding community.
Terry Wilt of the Salvation Army McKeesport Corps poses with some of the donated food and supplies that will be provided to local families. (Tube City Almanac photo)
Congregations in the Pittsburgh West Stake this year also supported South Hills Interfaith Ministries in Bethel Park and the Greater Washington County Food Bank, Miracle said. The donations are from a church humanitarian warehouse near Cleveland, he said.
“We reached out to McKeesport Mayor Mike Cherepko to see if he had a need for the food and hygiene products in his community,” Miracle said. “He recommended the Salvation Army.”
The food will be directly distributed to needy families in McKeesport, said Major Malinda Jones, who leads the McKeesport Salvation Army Corps with her husband, Major James Jones. He said the food will be distributed without regard to faith or creed.
“The need is great at this time of year,” James Jones said. “But even without the holidays coming up, this is a blessing.”
The donation arrives as the McKeesport Corps and other Salvation Army branches are getting ready for their annual Red Kettle fund drives. The Joneses said McKeesport has not met its goal for the past two years.
This year, bell-ringers will be stationed at the Wal-Mart in North Versailles Twp., Giant Eagle supermarkets on O’Neil Boulevard and at Oak Park Mall, and at the Shop ’n Save in Olympia Shopping Center.
But the closure of two long-time Red Kettle locations — the Kmart in North Versailles Twp. and the World of Values outlet in White Oak — caused a drop in donations of at least $9,000 last year, James Jones said.
“And people don’t carry cash any more,” he said. “The last couple of years have been tough on the Red Kettle campaign.”
This year, due to the recession and fewer people shopping in person due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Salvation Army corps across the country are projecting up to a 50 percent decline in donations, the Joneses said.
Cherepko said he and other local leaders are backing the Salvation Army’s Red Kettle campaign this year.
“Part of what I know is that the Salvation Army will get (help) into the hands of people who need it most,” he said. “Without question they’re expecting lower revenues than normal. It’s a different world we live in right now. We’re going to do what we can to really help their campaign.”
Linda Ring of McKeesport, Salvation Army volunteer; Jeff Miracle, president of the Pittsburgh West Stake of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints; Terry Wilt; Majs. Malinda and James Jones of the Salvation Army; and Cherepko (Tube City Almanac photo)
Originally published November 16, 2020.