A glance at the weather forecast and it is obvious Christmas in months away. However, this week the Salvation Army is kicking off Christmas in July.

"It is never too early to start thinking about Christmas," Cpt. Shannon Forney with the Salvation Army said. "I know it is hot and blankets and Christmas may be the farthest thing from our minds, but now is a great time to start planning and preparing."

Throughout the week Forney, Salvation Army Board members and even Mayor Theresa Kelly will be in front of HyVee ringing bells from 11 a.m.- 1 p.m., raising money for Christmas program which allows the Salvation Army to not only offer food but other needed items during the upcoming holiday season.

the large red bins will also be outside at HyVee to collect donations for the teens Christmas program.

"We know teens can especially be hard to shop for," Forney said. "So we are asking residents to start thinking about it and feel free to drop items in the bins or off at our office at 621 W. Mohawk Road."

Teen gifts can range from hair products, small electronics, gift certificates to local businesses, sporting equipment and more. The bins will also be available for donations of new or gently used and washed blankets for the senior citizens' program. Forney said the Salvation Army typically does not have enough funding to provide heaters for everyone in need during the winter, and blankets are of an added to comfort on those cold days, which are quickly approaching.

"Winter will be here before we know it, and while it is hot now, this is the perfect time to buy blankets, when they are on sale."

the site and sounds of ringing bells during Christmas in July may pique others' interest in ringing the bell as an individual, family or group during the holidays. Forney said now is the perfect time to sign-up for a bell ringing shift to ensure your group can get the time and location that best suits their schedules.

Online pre-registration can be done at registertoring.com. Forney said the user will have to answer a few questions, enter the local code; volunteers will then will receive an email a week before the bell-ringing event and a text reminder will be sent 24-hours before. All of the information is sent to Forney locally.

Forney also wanted to remind community members the food pantry is open, and residents can come once every 30 days. Food pantry hours are 1-4 p.m., Wednesday and Thursday at the Mohawk Road location.

food and Faith Friday are the second and fourth Fridays of every month and offer breakfast at 9:30 a.m., and lunch from 11:30 a.m., - 2p.m.

"Anyone can come to get a meal to take home or can sit and bring their friends and enjoy lunch, or sit and make new friends," she said.

the menus are posted on the organization's Facebook page in the days before the event.

Read more about the Salvation Army's major gifting program and possible tax credits in Thursday's Constitution-Tribune.