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Members of the Salvation Army Women’s Auxiliary in Great Falls take a break from packing up items for the Christmas Sale that begins Friday at the Salvation Army Corps Center located at 1000 17th St. South in Great Falls. The sale begins Friday and lasts through Saturday.

There are many “signs of the season.” The Christmas season, that is.

And the signs seem to come earlier each year.

And the first harbinger of the Christmas season are the decorations. Soon, everyone will be heading to the big box stores, fighting traffic and frustration for that tree ornament or yard decoration.

But, imagine saving money, time and frustration while getting an early start on your Christmas décor shopping while benefiting area communities.

The Great Falls Salvation Army Women’s Auxiliary has been hard at work getting items ready for their Christmas Décor Sale at The Salvation Army Community Center located at 1000 17th Ave. South in Great Falls.

About 20 Auxiliary members were hard at work categorizing, cleaning and packing items for the sale at their “Santa’s workshop” in a former grocery store just off 10th Avenue South recently.

The money raised by the Auxiliary’s Christmas Sale benefits the youth programs of the Great Falls Salvation Army.

Last year, the Auxiliary, through their Christmas and their Spring Sale held in May, raised over $20,000.

There are 60 members in the Auxiliary, down from 90 members in the past. Like other community organizations, the Auxiliary has seen a decline in volunteers over recent years.

Of all The Salvation Army Corps in Montana, Great Falls is the only one with a women’s auxiliary. The Auxiliary was formed over 40 years ago.

The programs supported by the Auxiliary serve an astounding number of kids in the area. Around 600 take part in the football program, and during the winter months a basketball program is offered.

The Salvation Army facility on 17th Avenue in Great Falls is impressive, with a nice indoor gym and fields for outdoor sports. In addition to the sports offerings, The Salvation Army serves 20 “t risk” elementary school-age youth with an intensive daily program that offers homework help, food and exercise. The youth are referred by local schools. More school age kids are in need of the program, but the number is limited by funding available to hire the additional staff.

The Salvation Army in Great Falls also has a food bank and operates a Thrift Store. The organization also assists families who have moved by supplying basic furniture needs.

The Great Falls Salvation Army also serves members of the Fairfield community. Currently, they are serving about 15 families in the Fairfield area.

If you would like to donate items for future Great Falls Salvation Army Women’s Auxiliary sales, you can drop off items at the Women’s Auxiliary location (drop off items only), 4910 10th Ave. South (behind Lithia Honda) on Wednesday mornings from 9-11 a.m. Or call 781-2356 or 868-2973 or 868-2054. You can also contact them about joining the Auxiliary or volunteering to help.

Anyone interested in learning more about The Salvation Army in Great Falls can contact the Salvation Army Center, 1000 17th St. South in Great Falls by calling (406) 453-0391.

The Salvation Army Family Store & Donation Center is located at 616 1st Ave NW, Great Falls.

For those in need of assistance, visit The Salvation Army Family Services at 527 9th Ave South, Great Falls. Their phone number is (406) 761-5660.

You can find more details on the Great Falls Salvation Army Corps and the programs they offer by visiting their website at https://greatfalls.salvationarmy.org/

If you would like to help the community in a fun and unique way, The Salvation Army is looking for “Bell Ringers.” In a few weeks volunteers will ring bells as they stand alongside the familiar Salvation Army kettles at Great Falls stores. Major Mark King and Captain Monica King of the Great Falls Corps told the Sun Times that even in the age of online shopping, the kettles are still a major source of fundraising for the organization.

And they are in need of volunteers.

Major King said that process is fairly simple. Volunteers don’t solicit donations; they ring the bells and stand with the kettle. Individuals, companies and groups can volunteer. Among the groups that have stepped up for the 2019 kettle season are Great Falls College/MSU and the University of Providence. High school sports teams have also volunteered time at the kettle, even the football team from the high school in Geraldine, Montana plans to travel to Great Falls to spend a Saturday manning the red kettles.