Gallery: Salvation Army Volunteer Appreciation Luncheon

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Posted March 7, 2023 | By Eadie Sickler/Special To The Ocala Gazette
Photos By Bruce Ackerman/Ocala Gazette

Salvation Army recognizes its volunteers

Awards luncheon gives “ringing” endorsement of those who help with the annual Red Kettle campaign, among others.  

By Eadie Sickler


The Salvation Army of Marion County presented three awards for top volunteerism efforts in 2022 during an appreciation luncheon on March 7 at the agency’s main building at 2901 NE 14th St., in Ocala. The awards ceremony was complete with a small quartet brass band and Advisory Board Chairman Wes Wheeler spoke words of thanks for all of the organization’s volunteers, who received trophies and other tokens of appreciation.

“Without volunteers, we couldn’t do anything in the community,” said retired Salvation Army Major Forrest McIntyre, who is the local volunteer coordinator and was emcee for the awards program.

Major Phillip Irish, current head of the local organization, along with his wife, Major Lynn Irish, said, “Volunteers are the community helping itself. We (the Salvation Army) are the hub helping that to happen.”

The three top award recipients were chosen from the service clubs or volunteers who ring the Red Kettle Program bells during the Christmas season. The awardees are Charles Yandle, the Ocala/Silver Springs Rotary Club and Daniel Butler.

McIntyre commented that these “volunteers gave so much of their time and effort in different capacities throughout the year.”

He said Yandle took charge of one Red Kettle for the entire season by himself, which is a very time-consuming fete. The Ocala/Silver Springs Rotary Club was honored for being the top group from the Ocala area sponsoring Red Kettle locations. Butler, a first-time bell ringer, was named Rookie of the Year.

Additional awards were presented to Angel Tree Program coordinators Tricia and Bruce Claeys and their “emotional support dog,” Paris.

“Paris just calmed everyone down when things sometimes got tense,” McIntyre said, adding that the canine was awarded a prize as well.

Money counters for the Red Kettle campaign were at the Salvation Army location every day during the season, under the direction of Elliott Federman, and were recognized for their many hours of donated volunteerism.

McIntyre also spoke of an anonymous donor who gave $10,000 to the local Salvation Army program last Christmas.

“The businessman, originally from Pennsylvania, has made the large donation for 25 years in his home state and recently moved to Ocala,” McIntyre noted.

According to McIntyre, the man said that when he was in the military during World War II and returned to the United States, he wanted a cup of coffee but had no money to buy one from the many people and vendors selling coffee on the pier to those returning from war. A little further up the street was the Salvation Army, where he was given a cup of coffee for free. It touched his heart and every year after that he has given $10,000 to the Salvation Army Red Kettle Program to show his appreciation.

One area of the program that is frequently misunderstood, McIntyre said, is about people who are paid for their work. He said 25 red kettles are placed throughout Marion County from the day after Thanksgiving until Christmas Eve.

“We are especially proud of our volunteers who man the kettles,” he said, “however, we never seem to get enough volunteers. This means we must hire workers to man the kettles. This costs the Salvation Army about $2,000 per season for each kettle without volunteers. This takes funds away from helping the people of Ocala and Marion County who need help. For every two hours a volunteer rings the bell, it saves the Salvation Army $30.”

Those hired to help man the kettles are chosen from persons the Salvation Army currently serves, including homeless or otherwise needy families so they have some money to help provide Christmas for their own families.

Businesses can sponsor a kettle for $2,000 to help offset the cost of hiring people. The business can have its name placed at the kettle site they sponsor, including display of their company logo and phone number.

“We are very thankful for the businesses that allow us to place the red kettles at their locations,” McIntyre said.

For information about volunteering or sponsorships, email



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