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Fundraiser kicks off bell ringing season

The Salvation Army's Annual Kettle Kick-Off Extravaganza takes place tonight as the charity looks ahead to meeting its needs for the holiday season and the rest of the year.

Capt. Raymond Erickson-King, Salvation Army commander, said about 100 community members and business people are expected to attend the 6 p.m. event at the center, 1440 W. 12th St. He hopes about $5,000 will be raised at the dinner.

"Each year, the Salvation Army posts its bell ringers at many of the area's businesses to raise funds to help the needy during the holiday season and throughout the year." Erickson-King said. "This is one of the most awaited fundraising events of the year for us, and this year we wanted to get it started right. By following the example of the Salvation Army in Modesto, which managed to raise several thousands of dollars in several minutes, we hope that the people of the Merced will help us meet our goal of $5,000 this year."

Area donors dropped $30,000 into Salvation Army kettles during the last Christmas season, Erickson-King said.

Capt. Martin Cooper and Capt. Nancy Cooper, Corps officers at the San Francisco Harbor Light Center, will relate their personal stories of mission work in the Marshall Islands and South Pacific. The eight-member Salvation Army Brass Ensemble will provide special music.

For more information or to reserve a table, contact Erickson-King at 209-383-4225, extension 2101 or by e-mail at

Associate Editor Doane Yawger can be reached at 209-385-2485 or