Topeka Salvation Army honors supporters who give lifeline to community

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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - The Salvation Army rang up a celebration for its supporters Tuesday.

The 5th annual Lifeline Luncheon thanked all the people, businesses and organizations who help the Salvation Army be a lifeline for the community.

Several individuals and groups were honored for their contributions to the annual Red Kettle campaign, including chairperson John Stauffer.

Also recognized were the Washburn University Athletic Department, the Sunflower Lions Club of Topeka, Northland Christian Church, Robyn Herrera, Joe Gamino, Jr., Jim Helton, and Thomas Mercer.

The Christmas-season fundraiser brought in nearly $200,000 which is vital to meet growing needs. Maj. Brian Burkett, the corps officer for Topeka, said they've seen an increase in food and utility assistance requests.

"(We're) just trying to, when we see a need, be out there and help people," Burkett said. "For instance, our community meal program, our pantry program, our emergency disaster services - it's really just, when you see someone in need, trying to help them."

13's Melissa Brunner emceed the event and was presented with the Salvation Army's "Others" award. The honor is given to people who show a commitment to serving others in their community.

Maj. Mark Martsolf gave the keynote speech. He and his wife, Terry, served as Topeka's corps officers from 2003 to 2005. Martsolf used a ventriloquism act to illustrate how the Salvation Army can change the life story of a person in need.