“Most of the bell ringers that I’ve worked with enjoy doing it because they get to see others giving back to the community,” Wilson said. “And they know by them standing there [they also are] helping the community.
“Everybody — when you get out of the car, for example at a Walmart, hears the bell [and you] automatically know what it is. So you see the children coming up saying, ‘Mom, can I give to The Salvation Army?’ That tugs at my heartstrings because I’ve got kids and [kids in general] look forward to giving to the kettle.”
The Salvation Army’s Cartersville Corps currently is recruiting volunteers for its Red Kettle campaign that will begin Wednesday. Through Dec. 24, the bell ringers will man Red Kettle stations each Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., outside various Cartersville locations, including Belk, Kmart, Kroger, Walmart, Hobby Lobby, Big Lots and Ingles Markets on Joe Frank Harris Parkway and West Avenue.
“We are looking for volunteers — individuals or groups — to take four-hour time slots,” Lt. Michelle Wilson said. “... Right now, before we start the campaign, we’ve only got about 20 percent of our slots filled up with volunteers and obviously the more volunteers we get the better the program is for us because then we don’t have to either have a place go unmanned, which [will result] in loss of income, or we have to hire someone and pay them to be out there and help us.
“Definitely volunteers do a better job. They know more people in the community. They rally support. They’re excited about it. So any volunteers, we’ll work with [anyone]. If it’s a family who wants to go out and do it, if it’s a civic group, if it’s a high school club — any age group range, we can work with and try to accommodate.”
This year, the nonprofit hopes to match last year’s Red Kettle total of $40,000. If successful, the campaign’s proceeds will account for about 20 percent of the local Salvation Army’s operating budget, which includes providing social services to financially struggling residents.
“These funds go right back into direct community services, [such as] providing Christmas toys and gifts for children,” Michelle Wilson said. “We’re looking at about 1,000 children that we’re going to be providing Christmas assistance to this year. It goes to our food pantry, which the numbers are through the roof with our ... assistance right now. We’re helping about 100 people a week through our food pantry.
“And then [it helps fund] the direct financial assistance for helping pay past due or disconnected utility accounts. Probably the last five months, we’ve been doing on average about $6,000 a month in that type of direct assistance. ... This is our one time of year that we do the public fundraising campaign. The great thing about the Kettle program is whether you give a penny or you give a $100 bill, it all comes together and all adds up together. The change you throw in the bucket, ends up changing people’s lives.”
For more information about serving as bell ringers in the Red Kettle campaign, contact the Cartersville Corps at 770-387-9955.