AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF)– The Salvation Army of Augusta is kicking off the Christmas season AND celebrating someone who has given FIVE DECADES of service on the Advisory Board! Retired auto group owner, Bob Richards, joined the Augusta board back in 1973.

At a breakfast Wednesday morning, Board Chair Ross Tudor dropped the first donation into the iconic red kettle.

It’s donations like this that help The Salvation Army meet needs without discrimination. In the past year, the Center of Hope has provided shelter for families, meals for the homeless, and much more.

Major Jonathan Raymer says 164 people have transitioned from homeless to stable housing.

“That is more than the previous three years combined. And so we have seen people come from homelessness to stability through our Center of Hope. 164 of them– that’s amazing.”

And here’s something else that’s pretty amazing: Bob Richards was also honored for serving 50 years on the board!

Current and former Advisory Board members were on hand, along with Salvation Army officers who have served the Augusta Area Command over the decades. Some officers, who couldn’t make it in person, sent video greetings congratulating Richards on his milestone.

When asked what Bob Richards has meant to The Salvation Army over these five decades, Major Raymer says his value can’t be overstated!

“And Bob is a behind-the-scenes worker doing things…. The Salvation Army -this community- doesn’t get to that 164 number, doesn’t get to all the other things we’ve shared, all the other numbers, the other outcomes, without Bob making us stronger, looking at us, holding us accountable for some of the things. It just doesn’t happen without someone like that.”

You can support the efforts of The Salvation Army by sponsoring an Angel Tree child this Christmas. Just go the the tree in the Kroc Center lobby.

You can also sign up to ring the bell at one of dozens of red kettles in the Augusta area. Just call 706-434-3185 to volunteer. And don’t forget, you can always give to the Red Kettle Campaign online, by clicking here.