Salvation Army Christmas Basket Program makes the holidays bright

PLAINSMAN FILE PHOTO Salvation Army Christmas Basket Program emcees, from left, Ben Halbkat, Frank Palleria and Kelly Hennrich, shown at a previous program, will be taking the stage for the annual event Nov. 28 through Dec. 1.

Get into the Spirit of Christmas during the 74th annual Salvation Army Christmas Basket Program featuring four nights of holiday entertainment.

The program will be held live Nov. 28 through Dec. 1 at Huron High School, starting each night at 6:30 p.m.

People can also tune in to KOKK (1210AM) or watch it on the web at

“Over the 74 years, we figure we’ve collected a million dollars,” said Frank Palleria, who hosts the annual event with Kelly Hennrich and Ben Halbkat, both teachers in Huron. “It’s amazing that a community of our size will raise probably close to $50,000 every year in four nights. Even after we’re done, money keeps coming in.

“It’s such a good program,” Palleria added. “It helps people, not just for the Christmas baskets, it also helps stock the food bank for the rest of the year, too.”

A new group that will be featured this year is the Fair City Brass, a group Palleria has started. “It’s fitting for the Salvation Army,” he said. “They’ve always had little brass bands.”

The Christmas Basket program was started in 1948 when George Chitty, an announcer on the local KIJV radio station, asked people to bring in potatoes to help feed people.

“That’s how it started and it just grew from there,” Palleria said. “We progressed from the radio station to the high school and on the world wide web and the local TV channel. We’re big time now.”

Each year they receive over-sized teddy bears and stuffed animals that are auctioned off during the programs.

“The animals we auction off come from the Teddy Bear Toss at the hockey rink,” he said. “They’re given to us and we ask people to bid on them. The Teddy Bear Toss will be Saturday, Nov. 26, and I will be there.”

Along with the Christmas Basket Program that helps provide food for people in need, there is also the Angel Tree that is traditionally decorated with the names of children at Runnings. People take a decoration and purchase a toy and a new outfit for a child.

“That will benefit 200 or more children,” Palleria said. “It’s quite a deal. I’m just proud of our Huron area for what we do. It speaks well of our people.”

74th annual Christmas Basket Program

Monday, Nov. 28:
• Huron High School Choir
• Huron HS Madrigals
• Huron HS Concert Band
• Huron HS Symphonic Band
• Huron HS Jazz Band

Tuesday, Nov. 29:
• Huron Middle School 7th and 8th Choir
• James Valley Christian School Choir
• JVCS Band
• Huron School Faculty Singers
• Mount Calvary Musical Group

Wednesday, Nov. 30:
• Holy Trinity Choir of Angels
• Bethesda Church Group
• First United Methodist Church Choir
• First United Methodist Church Praise Team

Thursday, Dec. 1:
• Huron High School Orchestra
• Huron Middle School 7th & 8th Orchestra
• Huron MS 7th & 8th Band
• Huron City Band
• Fair City Brass


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