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Ringing in the holidays
Bell ringers sought for Salvation Army Red Kettle Campaign

How to help

To help with the local Salvation Army’s annual Red Kettle Campaign or for more information about it, call Barton County Coordinator Kandi Wolf,620-797-5651, or Great Bend Salvation Army store Manager Dana Wall, 620-792-4299.

 They are among the first signs of the coming Christmas season and the Salvation Army’s signature red kettles will soon be appearing in local businesses.

The 2016 Red Kettle Campaign opens the day after Thanksgiving Day and runs through Christmas Eve, said Kandi Wolf, Barton County Red Kettle Campaign coordinator. Last year, the local campaign met its $30,000 goal, prompting this year’s target to be set at $32,000

“But, that’s provided I have bell ringers,” she said. She is seeking five to seven paid bell ringers and several volunteers from clubs, organizations, churches or other groups to help.

There will be four full-time kettles – two at Wal-Mart, one at the 10th Street Dillons and one at Walgreens, all in Great Bend. These should be manned from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. every day except Sundays. 

The ringers will only have to work three-hour shifts, but that is flexible, Wolf said.

There will also be counter-top kettles in several locations in Great Bend. These will be in Ellinwood and Hoisington as well, but, Wolf said she would like to have volunteers step forward to man regular kettles in these communities.

In this day and age, this effort involves more than dropping change into red kettles. There are other options to give, Wolf said. 

There will be an insert in the Great Bend Tribune and other area newspapers during the first week of December with an envelop for donations. Also, for the more tech-savvy, people can text the word “change” to 41444 and receive a link to donate by credit card.

“One person can make a difference,” Wolf said. “If we come together, we can help keep folks going through the holidays.”

This campaign is a good way to do that, she said. Of all the money raised, 96 percent of it stays in Barton County.

The funds help residents with rent, utility payments, medicine, disaster assistance and, on a limited basis, food and fuel. It also goes for scholarships to the Salvation Army’s summer camp for kids, the backpack program and new shoe program.

“It helps with emergency need services,” said Hays-based Ashley Allen, Salvation Army’s western Kansas field consultant. There is no financial requirement, but those seeking help do have to come in, explain their need and fill out some paperwork.

Unfortunately, Allen said local store Manager Dana Wall only has so much money to give. “About eight to 10 days a month, she has to turn people away.”

This the largest and longest-running fundraiser of its kind. It raised $149.6 million during the 2015 national drive.

Started by a Salvation Army captain in San Francisco in 1891, the campaign has grown into one of the most recognizable charitable campaigns in the United States. It provides toys for kids, coats for the homeless, food for the hungry and countless social service programs year around. 

More than 25,000 Salvation Army volunteers throughout the country ring bells and solicit donations to the red kettles.

For information on the program, call Wolf,620-797-5651, or Wall at the Great Bend store, 620-792-4299.