BELOIT - More bell ringers and donors are needed as Salvation Army fundraising efforts are about $10,000 short of where the organization typically is at this point in the season.
Lieutenant Kelly Summit said that on top of the current funding shortfall, the organization only has about a third of the spots for bell ringers in its annual Red Kettle campaign filled for each day. Summit said this is the Salvation Army's biggest fundraiser of the year, with about half of the organization's overall budget coming from bell ringing. This year's goal for funds raised from the kettles is $68,000.
There are 900 spots to fill for the season. Summit said there have been groups volunteering, such as groups from area high schools, 4-H groups and more, but more volunteers are needed, especially for weekday shifts.
"This year it's going a little bit slower than years past," Summit said,
She said finding volunteers has been an issue in the past, but this year it seems to be even more of an issue. Health concerns have taken some regulars away from their shifts. Dedicated volunteers have stepped up to the plate, though.
Debbie Volkert stood outside the Beloit Woodman's Food Market on Wednesday, decked out in a snowman hat, ringing bells and giving out candy canes as an extra incentive.
"The kids and adults really enjoy the candy canes," Volkert said.
Stationed at the other Woodman's entrance was Cheryl Cooper, of Beloit, who said it was her first time volunteering as a bell ringer.
"I have kids, and there were a few hard times at Christmas," Cooper said. "The Salvation Army helped me out, so I figured this was a way to give back."
The funds raised are used year-round for emergency social service work and the organization's food pantry program, in addition to the toy drive the week before Christmas. This year the Salvation has 550 children signed up.
There are 35 two-hour shifts from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday-Saturday. There are five kettle locations around Beloit at Woodman's, Walmart, ShopKo, Walgreens on Prairie Avenue and Piggly Wiggly. There are kettles at both entrances at the Woodman's and Walmart.
The last day of bell ringing this year will be Dec. 23. To volunteer as a bell ringer, call Summit at 608-289-9244.