‘Tis the season for red kettles [UPDATED]Published 3:38pm Friday, November 19, 2010 Updated 3:41pm Friday, November 19, 2010
‘Tis the season to start giving.
Salvation Army bell-ringers will now be seen around town with their red buckets, encouraging visitors to spare some change for a good cause and wishing them happy holidays.
To kick off the Salvation Army holiday giving campaign, Mayor Hal Leland, Fire Chief Mark Hovland and some firefighters, Marine Corps sergeants and other community members gathered at Service Food at noon Friday to ring the first bell of the season.
“Fergus is a giving community. They’ve always given very well to the Salvation Army,” said Gary Spies, Service Food owner and Salvation Army board member. “Times are a little bit tougher now, so we’ve got to encourage everybody to participate, and give what they can and help the less fortunate.”
For the second year, The Salvation Army is partnering with Toys for Tots. The Salvation Army takes applications for people in need of Christmas presents, and any toys that they are not able to collect will be given to Toys for Tots.
“The best thing about it is helping all the children and giving them a great Christmas and leaving with a smile on their face,” Marine Corps Sgt. Christopher Anderson said.
The Salvation Army is hoping to raise $199,000 during its holiday giving campaign, with $74,000 of that coming from donations to the red buckets at bell-ringing sites, according to Capt. Jeff Russell.
He added that they’re looking for volunteers to donate their time to ring bells. The season runs through Dec. 24, Mondays through Saturdays, from 9 a.m. to about 8 p.m. People can volunteer to ring individually or as a group at one of the sites, which are Kmart, SunMart, Service Food, Pamida, Walmart and WestRidge Mall.
The schedule to volunteer is flexible, Russell said — people can ring one time, or they can sign up for a specific time slot on a weekly basis.
If not enough volunteers sign up, the Salvation Army pays people to be bell ringers, but Russell said that situation isn’t ideal because it takes away from their funding.
Anything donated during the season goes into the general fund to pay for social services throughout Otter Tail County, such as the feeding program and after school program.
“They’ve been in our community 117 years,” Spies said. “They provide tremendous support to virutally anybody that needs it and they help the people in our community who are less fortunate than others.”
To volunteer as a bell ringer, call 739-9692 or stop in the Salvation Army office at 622 E. Vernon Ave.