ROCHESTER, Minn. - The Salvation Army serves hundreds of thousands of people in our communities.
In fact, the Salvation Army in Rochester serves about 12,000 people a year throughout all of their different programs. In order to do so, they need your help.
One of their biggest fundraisers of the year is happening right now - the Red Kettle Campaign.
We hear the bells ring every year, but you may not think about who your donations go to when you stuff a dollar in the bucket.
Janelle Malone knows firsthand.
"I mean even if it’s five cents, it goes such a long way," Malone said. "It touches a lot more families than you see or even realize, but it’s worth it."
The single mother of five hasn't had it easy.
"I was homeless, me and my kids were homeless," Malone said. "We were actually sleeping in the car."
It was the Salvation Army and their Rapid Rehousing Program that gave her the chance she needed.
"They were really the ones that entertained me and gave me the opportunity, and it was really just an opportunity of housing," Malone said. "Because when I was homeless, obviously I wasn’t working so I needed that one little piece to get on my feet. And after securing the housing piece, I completed college and now I’m a phlebotomist. And I’ve moved forward since then so it was huge, huge, huge for me."
It was also huge for her kids, which is important to the Salvation Army - especially during the holiday season.
"Christmas - it’s one of those holidays where children especially can realize what their circumstances are," Rebecca Snapp, the director of community engagement for the Rochester Salvation Army, said.
The circumstances for the Malone family are a lot different this year.
"I’m actually planning a Christmas," Malone said. "Last year, it wasn’t even fathomable to think about Christmas. It was more I gotta find somewhere to live, be warm, get fed, you know those types of things. So this year we’re actually celebrating, so that’s different."
A mother who's finally able to celebrate with her kids - not just the holidays, but life.
"We’re getting back to the basics of being able to laugh and enjoy each other," Malone said. "Because for awhile there, it was just like we’re surviving. So we don’t really have any time to laugh or joke or anything like that. So it’s very good to just breathe."
This year, the Rochester Salvation Army has the goal of raising $950,000. At last check, they've met over 40-percent of their goal.
Part of the KIMT News 3 team will be ringing the kettle bells on Thursday, Dec. 19 at Andy's in the Crossroads Center. We will be there from 5:00-8:00 p.m.