Bill Capo / Eyewitness News
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NEW ORLEANS - Susan McNabb is quite entertaining as she sings, dances and rings her bell.

The Salvation Army bell ringers are out early this year, on a serious mission to fill their kettles with donated dollars to provide Christmas presents for children.

'We urgently need help,' McNabb said. 'I myself was homeless, and Salvation Army helped me not only to get permanent housing. They also got me off the street.'

'The children get the toys; the families, depends on whether they've been adopted out or not. They might get food to go with it, just depends on who adopts them,' said Salvation Army Area Commander Major W.D. Owens.

The Salvation Army has received requests from over 1,400 metro New Orleans families this year, and they're seeking donations to buy presents for 4,000 children, up 300 from last year, and they have few toys yet.

'So far that's all we have,' said Major Owens of their slow start to the holiday season. 'Now we have a lot of people that have sort of adopted, but we have to wait until week after next when they start delivering it to us. I think God's going to take care of it, but it would be nice if a lot more people got involved.'

To meet that demand, the Salvation Army needs to raise $300,000 this year, up from $255,000 last year.

That is a big challenge.

'We're about $1,500 down at this time compared to the last year that we had,' said Major Owen.

They are depending on the Christmas kettles, mail in donations, and the Adopt An Angel program.

'Every dime, nickel or penny, whatever you put in there helps a child at Christmas,' said Major Owen.

For more information, call the Salvation Army at 940-8287, or visit their website here.

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