'Tis the season? Already?
Though the weather cooled off this weekend, it's hard to start thinking about Christmas when Halloween is still three weeks away. But Andy Miller says he has no choice if he wants the Salvation Army's Gwinnett County Corps to eclipse last year's kettle campaign.
Captain Miller, who moved to Gwinnett in July, wants to eclipse the $255,000 raised in Gwinnett last year and he knows the only way to do that is to add more volunteers to ring the iconic bells. And the only way to do that is to start recruiting bell ringers far in advance of trick-or-treating.
"Everything that is raised here stays in the county," Miller said. "I'm brand-new to the county, but I think we can raise more (than last year) if we can get the volunteers. One of the key things we can do is get people organized early. If we get organized early, we can have expotentially more workers and raise more money."
The Salvation Army is looking for any and all volunteers, but Miller said high school clubs and sports teams work well, as do civic groups and nonprofits. Miller said the Salvation Army is also actively pursuing churches and Sunday school classes and other groups that are looking for a project to help in the community.
"It's a good way to do something as a team," he said.
Miller is a sixth-generation member of the Salvation Army. His grandfather, also named Andy Miller, was the national commander. Miller and his wife, Abby, also a member of the Salvation Army, moved here from Arlington, Texas, where for the past five years, his duties included working with the Dallas Cowboys for the large kettle kickoff during the team's annual Thanksgiving day game.
There are new adventures waiting in Gwinnett, and the Millers -- who serve as preachers and administrators for the Army -- and their three children are quickly becoming part of the community.
"We love it here," Miller said. "I like the way people work together to solve problems. But as the county grows, we have more and more needs and we need to raise more money."
Miller has the perfect counterpart in Margaret Stewart. The Norcross resident is chairman of the Gwinnett County Advisory Board and enjoys Miller's passion, matching it with her own.
"My eye is always on action. I want this kettle (campaign) to be great," Stewart said. "It's just great to ring the bells, and every time you do it you end up getting a story. Someone will come up and tell you: 'I was having a rough time and the Salvation Army saved my life.'"
If you want to get in to the ring of things and get a head start on your Christmas giving, go to www.salvationarmy.org and click on the Gwinnett tab or call 770-724-1663 for more information.
Email Todd Cline at email@example.com. His column appears on Wednesdays.