It’s the season for bell-ringing

Nov. 20—The Salvation Army’s Red Kettle campaign in the Meadville area has started, but this year’s effort needs more than money to meet its $50,000 goal.

It needs some bellringers, according to Capt. Mary Hughes.

“We always need people,” said Hughes, commander of The Salvation Army of Meadville.

Bellringers are critical to staff kettles in order for the campaign to reach its goal during the next few weeks.

“The money we raise all stays locally,” Hughes said. “Ideally, I like to have all the kettles staffed 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday.”

The campaign, which runs now through Dec. 23, began Thursday at Tops and Valesky’s markets in Meadville with Walmart in Vernon Township added on Saturday. Another location, Big Lots at the Downtown Mall, will be added Nov. 28, she said.

The Salvation Army will use a mix of volunteers and temporary workers to staff the kettles, but needs both.

“I am getting some groups to sign up to volunteer on a day — like churches and civic clubs — but we’re having a bit of a rough time,” Hughes said.

For scheduling purposes, volunteers are asked to work 90 minutes to two hours while the temporary workers are paid minimum wage per hour and work a four-hour shift.

“Those that we have to pay comes out of the money that we’re raising in the campaign, so it’s less money into our programs,” Hughes said.

Funds raised in the campaign go toward a variety of local Salvation Army assistance programs, according to Hughes. Those programs include kids’ programming and day camps.

In August, The Salvation Army of Meadville passed out more than 200 backpacks filled with school supplies for the start of the school year.

The local unit also provides rent and utility assistance as well as operates a food bank and offers Christmas assistance to families.

“There’s going to be a big need in aid,” Hughes said, noting there were more than 200 applications this year for Christmas. There are 119 families getting such holiday assistance involving 476 people in all with 258 of them children, she said.

Keith Gushard can be reached at (814) 724-6370 or by email at [email protected].

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