COAL TOWNSHIP - This past holiday season was one of the busiest and most successful for the local Salvation Army.

Judy Orner, social services director for the Army, gave her Christmas report during a meeting of the advisory board Thursday at the headquarters at 1300 W. Spruce St.

Orner reported The Salvation Army assisted 681 families from throughout the greater Shamokin-Mount Carmel and surrounding communities. Orner reported 2,417 individuals were assisted, 1,462 children received toys and 5,848 toys were distributed.

She said despite the large number of people assisted, distribution of the Christmas food items and toys went "very smooth." She said it seemed the items arrived earlier this season allowing more time to plan the distribution.

Henry Linton, chairman of the advisory board, said he received numerous "nice compliments" from families served during his travels throughout the communities. Linton called the whole Christmas distribution and fund-raising effort "remarkable."

Board members and Army leaders extended special thanks to Ronald "Buddy" Knoebel, a member of the advisory board, and Knoebels Amusement Resort, for their assistance with the Christmas basket items.

Major Tina Streck, commanding officer, reported that Christmas Kettle collections, despite the economy, were higher this year than the previous season. Also, table-top kettles that were placed at various businesses were also very successful.

Streck thanked the establishments that allowed kettle bell-ringers to stand at the stores and said there is a need for additional bell-ringers next season.

Ned Sodrick, advisory board member, suggested the board and Army administrators make an effort to contact service clubs, businesses and various community and school groups and have them man the kettles for a period of time, allowing the longtime kettle collectors to "get a break" from their duties.

Sodrick said at the same time a sign with the organization's name could be displayed along with the Salvation Army sign.

Chris Venna, Shamokin Area Middle-High School principal, and Brian Persing, Shamokin Area School Board member, both members of the Salvation Army advisory board, attended the session and said they will announce details of the upcoming Salvation Army Adult Benefit Basketball Tournament later this week.

Board members and Army administrators commended Lois McCormick, longtime advisory board member, who is leaving the area and has resigned from the board. McCormick was a very active board member.

Attending the meeting, in addition to Maj. Streck, Linton, Sodrick, Knoebel, Venna and Persing, were Janice Kotwica, Violette Feudale, Harry Deitz, Paul Metrocavage and Bill Richie.

Next advisory board meeting will be at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, March 14, at the headquarters.