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Salvation Army bells begin ringing today

Published 11:27am Friday, November 15, 2013

Shoppers in Fergus Falls will hear that extra jingle of bells when they enter some of the city’s stores from now until Christmas Eve. The Fergus Falls Salvation Army Red Kettle Campaign kicked off Thursday evening at Service Food.

The annual campaign, which has been around since 1893, tasks mainly volunteers with ringing bells around town in hopes of community members making donations. There’s room for more volunteers who would like to give ringing a try.

“We’re looking for people,” said Lynne Verhaagh, community relations director with the Salvation Army. “Definitely. We are in great need of volunteer ringers.”

A total of $85,000 was raised last year through the pocket change and donations to the red kettles.

“And that is our goal again this year,” Verhaagh said.

The goal is to raise $105,000 through the mail appeal campaign as well.

One hundred percent of donations stay in Otter Tail County to help programs and families in need.

“This will only raise a third of our budget to help our programs throughout the next year,” Verhaagh said. The rest will come from other donations and grants.

The feeding program and emergency services program are two of the biggest program beneficiaries from the donations. The noon weekday meal served 12,697 in 2012.

Lots of the red kettle donation money goes toward the Salvation Army Christmas Toy Shop, which will be from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Dec. 19. More than 1,000 came through the top shop last year, which is based on an application process and income guidelines.

“We set up our gym to look like a Toys-R-Us,” Verhaagh said.

Families can pick out toys and an outfit for their kids, stocking stuffers, a quilt, and receive a turkey plus a voucher for Service Food so they can buy the rest of the trimmings.

Those looking to donate this holiday season can stop by one of nine sites in town from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday up until the campaign ends at noon Christmas Eve.

Bell ringers will be stationed at Fleet Farm, Service Food, Kmart, Sunmart, WestRidge Mall, Walgreens, Walmart, Shopko and Ben Franklin.

The Salvation Army’s red kettles are extremely important to the community because, “the Salvation Army is the last place of hope for a lot of families,” Verhaagh said.

“They’ve expended or they’ve used up maybe all of their other resources that are available to them. A lot of times when they come into us, they have absolutely nothing.”

Those interested in volunteering their time as a bell ringer should contact the Fergus Falls Salvation Army at 739-9692.

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