LAWTON, Okla._Dozens of locals headed to the Great Plains Technology Center to learn more about how the Salvation Army of Lawton provides help to those in need.
The Salvation Army says while their Red Kettle Campaign is the non-profit's largest fundraiser and the most recognized. They hope to show donors through tours and luncheons, like Friday's, that the need for help goes beyond the holidays.
Captain Israel Roseno says the luncheon helps bring awareness to their "Beyond Bell Ringing" campaign, while also giving them the opportunity to thank their longtime donors for their continued support.
Captain Roseno says touring the Salvation Army gives many donors a peace of mind and an idea of where their money is being spent. He says full disclosure is key.
"See our buildings, see how we do our services [and] answer any of their questions," Capt. Roseno said.
The idea is to show visitors where their donations go so they leave feeling good about making a donation.
"When they put the money in the red kettle they will be comfortable knowing where that money is going, and how it's being used," Capt. Roseno said.
Captain Roseno says no two Salvation Army's are alike. The Lawton branch offers everything from a Boys and Girls Club that served more than 300 kids in 2014 to a homeless shelter, a soup kitchen, emergency disaster relief and a family store.
"We helped them with their tutoring, we helped them with their sports, character building programs, peer pressure in school," Capt. Roseno said of their Boys and Girls Club.
"Somebody has clothing that they don't want anymore, they can donate to us and then we give clothing vouchers for individuals who maybe are staying in our shelter or maybe they need some better clothing to be able to get a job," Capt. Roseno explained.
Captain Roseno says items in the Salvation Army Family Store are sold and the proceeds directly fund the Salvation Army's projects. He says without the community's support, none of these services would be possible. That's why this campaign is so important.
"We want people to understand that when they see the red kettle's in front of the stores, we want them to be confident when they give that donation to know that their money is going to wherever it's needed the most," Capt. Roseno said.
Captain Roseno says since the feedback of the tours has been so positive, they will continue the tours into November.
Tours are given on the first Wednesday of the month at noon, and the first Thursday of the month at 5:00 p.m.