BANGOR, Maine — Marshmallow s’mores, popcorn, hot dogs and other foods typically served around a campfire topped tables at the Salvation Army’s 2009 volunteer brunch on Wednesday as a symbol of this year’s goal to send 125 local children to camp this summer.
The Salvation Army sent 24 children to camps in 2008 thanks to donations raised locally, and sent 86 children to camp in 2009, Capt. Josh Lyle, who runs the local chapter with his wife, Capt. Catherine Lyle, told volunteers at the luncheon.
The Bangor Breakfast Rotary Club heard about the Salvation Army’s goal to send needy kids to camp and donated $5,000, which was added to $1,500 collected through the Santa’s Helper Fund program, Lyle said.
“For 125 kids we need to raise $25,000 … to send all these kids to camp for free,” he said. “We’re going to start that campaign with $6,500.”
The Northern New England Division owns Camp Sebago, which is host to around 200 children from Maine, Vermont and New Hampshire each week during the summer months.
Capt. Brett DeMichael, Camp Sebago director, recited the camp’s teachers’ four codes.
“The first camp code is to honor God,” he said. “The Salvation Army is a church. We want them to understand God loves them.
“The second camp code is to respect everyone,” DeMichael said, adding taking care of the camp is code number three. “The last one is to have as much fun as possible.”
About 60 volunteers and others gathered for the brunch, which also honored the group that helped out the most during the season.
The city’s Lions Club, one of 30 area groups, was honored for collecting the most donations during the bell-ringer fundraiser during the holiday Kettle Campaign.
“The 2009 Christmas Red Kettle campaign raised $174,000, which is a record,” Lyle said.
Bangor Savings Bank stepped forward this year to match, up to $50,000, the funds raised in the Santa’s Helper Fund, created 36 years ago by Bangor Daily News newspaperwoman Joanne Van Namee to help the local needy.
“At the end of the campaign, we raised $65,000 and Bangor Savings Bank matched $50,000 so that’s $115,000,” Lyle said, getting a round of applause from those at the gathering.
Carl Hutchinson, a longtime Salvation Army employee, was named the volunteer of the year; Grace Bible Fellowship was named the outstanding volunteer group of the year; and General Electric was honored for its support of local people in the last year.
The Salvation Army’s Bangor chapter serves more than 5,000 people a week in a number of different services, including providing from 100 to 120 people with a daily hot meal, and assisting with heating and other types of fuel assistance, clothing, and even toys for children.
In the last year, the agency had record sales figures at the Bangor thrift store and was able to add a new family thrift store in Newport. It also opened a food pantry to provide basic staples to locals to prevent them from going hungry, Kyle said.
The Salvation Army runs a thrift store on Broadway in Bangor, Sunday school at 9:45 a.m. and 11 a.m. Christian-based Sunday worship, and after-school programs for children and teens.
“Without you we would not be here,” Roberta Winchell, Salvation Army volunteer and local businesswoman, said to the volunteers during the event’s welcome.