QUINCY -- Jeff Spear knows how important it is for the Quincy Salvation Army's Tree of Lights Christmas campaign to reach its $405,000 goal.
Money raised in the campaign provides assistance to hundreds of needy families not just at Christmas but throughout the year.
"We've seen the need," Spear said. "This is the Salvation Army's big fundraiser, and it's important that it gets done because it really will have a dramatic impact on people's lives."
Spear and his wife, Theresa, and their son Will and his wife, Kristin, were introduced Thursday night as co-chairmen of the Salvation Army's 2018 Tree of Lights campaign, which was launched with a banquet and auction at the Kroc Center, where the $405,000 goal was announced.
Last year's campaign, which had a $400,000 goal, netted $402,724. So the bar for this year was raised a little higher.
Patty Douglas, development director, said the 2018 campaign is special because this year represents the 125th anniversary that the Salvation Army has operated in Quincy.
She said the agency's leadership wanted a special family to lead this year's drive and reached out to the Spears, who have been active in the Salvation Army for three generations -- starting with the late George Spear, a longtime Advisory Board member. He was the father of Jeff Spear, who has been active with the agency in various capacities over the years, and the grandfather of Will Spear, who is on the Family Store Committee.
"George Spear was heavily involved in the Salvation Army, and he also chaired our Hometown Endowment Committee and actually helped get it off the ground," Douglas said. "So as a tribute to George, and to the Spear family, we asked them to chair our campaign," Douglas said.
Jeff Spear said he and his wife, son and daughter-in-law feel honored to be co-chairmen "because the Salvation Army is an important part of our lives, and it's an important part of Quincy."
Spear said the Salvation Army "is a great example of a faith-based organization working to solve the problems of homelessness, hunger and despair in our own backyard."
The Spears were introduced at Thursday's banquet by last year's co-chairmen, Roy and Trisha Webb.
Douglas said the Tree of Lights campaign is the Salvation Army's largest fundraiser of the year. The campaign incorporates not only collections from the Salvation Army's red kettles, which will be manned by volunteers at various locations starting Friday, but it also includes money raised from individual and corporate donations, special events and WGEM's annual "Bucket Blitz" slated Dec. 10-13 at 33rd and Broadway.
Douglas said money generated by the campaign provides essential assistance and services to area residents throughout the year and during the holiday season.
Over the past year, for example, the Salvation Army Emergency Shelter and Family Services provided:
º 4,522 nights of lodging for 453 people at the agency's emergency shelter.
º 18,033 meals to shelter residents.
º Education classes for 1,584 people.
º 2,154 food boxes to families through the food pantry.
During the 2017 Christmas season alone, the Salvation Army gave food baskets to 700 families and 4,451 toys to children. It also served Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners to 885 people.
Douglas said families can apply for 2018 Christmas assistance by contacting the agency's Family Services office at Fifth and Broadway. Food baskets and other assistance will be distributed in Hannibal, Mo., on Dec. 19, while the Quincy distribution and annual "Toy Town" event are scheduled Dec. 20.
Douglas said fundraising will run through Dec. 31, and the results of the campaign will be announced in mid-January.
More information is at www.salvationarmyquincy.org/