Register to ring: Salvation Army in need of volunteers as bell-ringing season begins
Annual Red Kettle Campaign kicks off Nov. 8
MADISON, Wis. — It’s beginning to look and sound a lot like Christmas across Dane County! First came the snow, followed by carols on the radio. And this weekend, the bell ringing begins.
The Salvation Army’s annual Red Kettle Campaign kicks off Friday, Nov. 8. Yet again, the organization is running into a familiar problem: It’s struggling to recruit enough bell ringers. 80 percent of posted shifts still aren’t filled, which is even more than this time last year.
“It really comes down to having those kettle stands manned,” said Steve Heck of the Dane County Salvation Army. “It’s much more difficult when the kettle stands aren’t manned to get people to give. If we’re there, people in this community are extremely generous and will donate.”
Two-hour shifts are available at 63 kettle stand locations, both indoors and outdoors, across Dane County. Shifts are available from 8 a.m. until 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday.
For every hour a volunteer spends ringing bells outside local grocery stores, the Salvation Army collects an average of $60. That’s enough money to pay for a woman to spend three nights in its shelter.
The organization needs to raise $600,000 from Nov. 8 through Christmas Eve. Any additional money raised will help the organization provide more services. If the Salvation Army doesn’t hit that mark, it’ll have to find other ways to raise money.
“We don’t have a choice,” Heck said. “We have to raise the money. It’s not like we have a surplus of money.”
The money collected this holiday season all stays local. It goes toward the Dane County Salvation Army’s shelter, which is the county’s only single women’s shelter as well as the only emergency drop-in shelter for families.
“If you go out and you give one hour or two hours, you will not be disappointed,” Heck said. “People will come out, people will thank you, and people will tell you stories. The vast majority of people sign up for one shift, love it, and come back for another.”
The Salvation Army also runs after-school programs and a community center.
A volunteer shortage has become common for the organization. At this time last year, 75-percent of bell ringing shifts still weren’t filled.
By the end of the 2018 giving season, with 32 percent of shifts filled, the Salvation Army collected $590,000.
The Salvation Army is also looking for volunteers to help with its Adopt-A-Family program and serve during its holiday meals.
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