TIFTON — The Salvation Army of Tifton is kicking off red kettle season by sponsoring a Red Kettle Half-K, billed as “The Race For The Rest Of Us,” on Saturday, Nov. 16 at 9 a.m.

“The Red Kettle Half-K is a fundraising event for The Salvation Army,” said Jennifer Yawn, the chairperson for The Salvation Army’s advisory board. “It is a spoof on a 5-K in that it’s only a half of one kilometer. That’s 1,640.42 feet.”

The event will begin in front of Tifton City Hall and will run from there to the Chamber of Commerce, across the Cato Knight parking lot and will end at the Brumby Crossing parking lot. There will be snack stations throughout the route as well as the opportunity to sign up as a VIP level participant and be escorted by a golf cart.

“We don’t want anybody to exert themselves,” Yawn said. “We don’t want anybody to get hungry or hangry on the way. Everybody gets a doughnut at the end because it’s really just a spoof kind of race. All of this is for fun.”

The race is part of The Salvation Army’s main means of fundraising, the ubiquitous red kettles that are in front of stores during the holiday season.

“Red kettle season is our biggest fundraiser for The Salvation Army,” Yawn said. “We have a goal for our community to raise $35,000 in funding. So obviously we want to get a head start.”

The funding raised by Tiftonites is used locally, according to Yawn.

Kelley Bedore, The Salvation Army Tifton Service Center director, said there are many ways the organization helps local families who have fallen on hard times and need a helping hand to get through a tight month.

The Salvation Army helps families that may be food insecure, holds uniform drives for school children and distributes turkey boxes to help families have Thanksgiving dinner when they may not be able to otherwise. They also have various programs to help families get crucial bills, like rent or power bills, paid.

Bedore said that all of this is funded through the red kettles.

“It’s fun to get groups together and do competitions,” she said. “We get some big churches that will do it and it’s so much fun. They have such a good time. It’s our only fundraiser that we do and this is how we can make an impact on our community, by using these funds.”

Advisory Board member Kirsten McAlpin said that this is a fun, simple way to get involved in making the community better this Christmas season.

“Give a couple of hours of your time,” she said. “Or even if you see a kettle, there’s lots of different ones in the community at different stores. Just giving a little bit helps and it stays here. I think that’s a big deal.”

Signups for the half-K and to ring a bell while manning a red kettle may be done at The Salvation Army or at the half-K. Kettle locations for this year will be Hobby Lobby, both Walmart locations, Belk’s, Tractor Supply and Big Lots.

“The more volunteers we have, the more kettles you’ll see,” Bedore said.

“They can literally show up the day of the race and participate,” Yawn said.

Those who pre-register for the race will get a t-shirt and participants will get a sticker to put on their vehicle.

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