It happens this Thursday, Nov. 17, on the front lawn of The Salvation Army Indiana Divisional Headquarters – the event which means it’s really time to embrace that Christmas is near – The Annual Tree of Lights Kick-Off. The  ceremony will begin at 11:30 a.m at 3100 N. Meridian St. in Indianapolis.

This year’s Tree Sponsor for the Tree of Lights Campaign will once again be Walmart and for the 7th straight year, WISH-TV 8’s Eric Halvorson will return as honorary Tree of Lights Chairman. Also participating in the kick-off event are Douglas Hairston of the Mayor’s Front Porch Alliance, Tom Zupancic, Joe Staysniak, the St. Richard’s 4th Grade Choir, The Salvation Army Brass Ensemble, along with corporate sponsors and other supporters of The Salvation Army.

The goal for this year’s campaign is $3.2 million. The money raised will go towards supporting Salvation Army programs and services throughout Central Indiana.  The Tree of Lights Campaign includes the Red Kettle campaign and soon, the famous symbol of Christmas will be appearing at over 140 locations throughout central Indiana.  In addition to the traditional Red Kettles, The Salvation Army will once again offer a Text donation option and the Online Red Kettle where groups or individuals can raise money for the Army.  To find more you can go to SalvationArmyIndiana.org.

The Salvation Army finished their fiscal year more than $361,000 behind in fundraising, but served more Hoosiers than the previous year.  With the state poverty rate at a 30 year high, The Salvation Army is expecting to see another increase in requests for assistance in 2012.  That’s why it is critical that this year’s Tree of Lights goal is reached.

Last year – through the generosity of central Indiana donors – The Salvation Army served more than 2,300 people struggling with substance abuse, provided more than 96,000 safe nights of shelter for women and children fleeing domestic abuse and homelessness, served more than 2.1 million meals to men, women, and children in need, and provided a safe environment for hundreds of area children to go after school.

For a Salvation Army Tree of Lights Press Kit, please contact Mike Rowland at 317.224.1037 or media@salvationarmyindiana.org.

For more information about our Christmas season or for volunteer opportunities, check out the “Get Involved” tab here on our website.