Today’s news:

Salvation Army needs X-mas generosity now

If you see bell ringers next to Salvation Army kettles on Queens streets next week, do not be fooled. Christmas is not for another five months, but the nonprofit is asking people for some early holiday generosity in hard times.

Starting Sunday, the Salvation Army will be conducting its Christmas Kettle fund-raising drive to raise money for its services. Due to the recession, hundreds of people have been heading to Salvation Army centers for free meals, clothing, counseling and help for financial problems and shelter.

“Many people can’t pay their rent or utility bills,” said Jong Woo, captain at the Flushing Salvation Army Community Center at 142-50 32nd Ave.

The nonprofit will be holding a special July kettle initiative for one week across the city and several locations in Queens will be participating, including the Jamaica Citadel at 90-23 161st St. and the Ridgewood Citadel at 69-23 Cypress Hills St.

Demand has increased so much during the last couple of months the Salvation Army needed to hold a kettle fund-raising drive.

“Our big fund-raising is usually in Christmas, but we can’t wait for Christmas,” said Major Evan Hickman, general secretary of Salvation Army of Greater NY.

Although volunteers will not be dressing up as Santa Claus or handing out candy canes while they man the streets, they have come up with ideas to get their message across.

Dorila Ruiz, a Salvation Army employee at the Jackson Heights center at 86-07 35th Ave., said she has been in contact with the stores and shopping centers in the area, including the Queens Center Mall, to set up spots where volunteers can ring their bells.

Ruiz said she thinks the drive will be a success in Queens because people in the neighborhood are more generous because they are a close-knit community.

“Over here, there is a lot of necessity to take care of our society,” she said.

Woo said his center will have kettles placed inside stores on Main Street and in Bayside, since some store owners do not allow volunteers to stand outside their shops. The captain said he thinks the drive will help the Salvation Army because many Queens residents recognize what the nonprofit stands for.

“This Christmastime, we raised $10,000 [in Flushing], and we expected $3,000,” he said.

Reach reporter Ivan Pereira by e-mail at ipereira@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 146.

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