"This will be our fifth Christmas here in Cartersville," Cartersville Corps Capt. John Fuller said. "We've had ... [people] come out and support [this fundraiser] because they realize that this money stays in the community to help the less fortunate here.
"So they have really gone above and beyond [what] you would think this fine community would do, considering all of the businesses laying off [employees], all the businesses closing down. They have really supported it the last four Christmases. And we are really blessed that they have done that."
For their campaign to be successful, The Salvation Army still is in need of volunteers to serve for at least two hours. Individuals can request times to assist in the drive by calling 770-387-9955.
Ringing the bell has become a tradition for many local families, with some recounting their memorable experiences to the Cartersville Corps.
"We do have a few families that come out and want to [involve] the whole family [in ringing the bell]," Fuller said. "Then we have others that tell us about how [they've] had some of the World War II vets and some of the other veterans come up to them and thank them for what The Salvation Army has done for them while they were a veteran or while they were at war for protecting our country.
"Or [the bell ringers] are blessed when mothers come up with their little children and tell them, 'this is a wonderful organization' and 'always put your money in there' and they give them the money to put it in. And these children are maybe 2, 3, 4 years old, 5 at the most, and there's actually a lot of the little kids that are 4 and 5. They love to come out with their parents and ring the bell also as part of their tradition."
This year, the nonprofit hopes to raise $40,000 through its Red Kettle campaign, surpassing last year's total of about $37,000. The public's donations will remain in Bartow County, enabling the local Salvation Army continue its services, ranging from purchasing Christmas toys for children to providing food assistance.
Since the nonprofit's financial donations have decreased, The Salvation Army is looking for its largest public fundraiser to account for more than 10 percent of its operating budget, which includes dispensing social services to financially struggling residents.
"The hardest thing that we're seeing is not having enough funds to help the people that truly need the help," said Jane Nations, director of social services for the local Salvation Army. "It seems like we just run out of money so quick for those services."
... [I want to] thank all the generous people here in Cartersville. I know even they're struggling but whatever they can put in the kettles [is appreciated] because that's our biggest fundraiser time.
"That's really the only time they'll see us out asking for money. If they can dig in their pocket and pull that $5 or $1 or $20 or 50 cents, whatever they have, that money is going to stay here in Cartersville and it is going to go to help with all of our programs -- our social service programs, our youth program, our senior citizen program. It's just our most important fundraiser."