With only 52 days until Christmas, the Salvation Army is set to launch their annual Red Kettle campaign today.
“Sedalia has always been a giving community,” Lt. Jared Collins, of the Salvation Army, said. “I think it speaks well of the community, the amount of time and donations they have given in the past.”
It is in those two areas that the Salvation Army is looking for help once again this year.
“We have set our local goal at $35,000,” Collins said. “It’s $5,000 more than last year, but there is always a need to help those in the community who are struggling and we seek to meet the need as best we can.
“All of the money we raise stays in Pettis County for our various projects,” Collins added.
Those projects included the community food project, the emergency assistance program, and the Angel Tree Toy Drive.
“I don’t think many people realize that we serve 40 to 60 meals every day at our center on Broadway and Engineer,” Collins said. “Many of the people we serve don’t just come for the meal but they are there early in the morning and stay until we close after lunch.
“It is a way for them to connect with other people and build friendships,” Collins said. “It is also a way for them to help us and give something back for what they receive here.”
Collins recounted the story of one individual who comes for a meal nearly daily.
“They always have lunch with us, but during our bell ringing campaign, this same individual will ring the bell each morning for an hour at one of our sites and then will go out after lunch and ring at a site for another hour,” Collins said.
The Salvation Army recognizes that not everyone can provide financial support to the organization, but the time that individuals can devote is always needed and welcomed by the organization, especially this season.
The organization has seven stores where kettles will be located this season: Big Lots, Bings, K-Mart, JC Penney’s, Walgreens, Walmart and Woods. A limited number of the locations will begin the drive today.
“We try to be there from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. every day except Sundays and Thanksgiving,” Collins said. “When you consider that a lot of these locations have two doors where we are stationed, it takes a lot of volunteers to ring the bells.”
Sedalia is one of the only Salvation Army chapters that uses all volunteers to ring the bells for their kettle campaign.
“I only know of one other that I have come across,” Collins stated. “Many of the centers that hear about us are amazed that we are able to do this completely with volunteer help.
“The beauty of this is that all of the money we raise puts more money back in the community since we don’t have to pay for bell ringers,” he added.
The organization is still seeking volunteers to ring bells this season.
Collins mentioned several groups, civic and service clubs volunteer their time each year to help the kettle drive.
“We ask that they ring a minimum of one hour,” Collins said. “After that the number of hours they give it is completely up to them how much time they want to spend.
“Some people want to try to do it for an entire day, but we really don’t want to recommend that because we know it can get really cold after a while,” he said. “A day or two after their shift, we call the group and let them know how much they raised during their shift.”
Some of the organizations have a friendly competition between their clubs to see who can raise the most money, Collins added.
“We know we have a lot of days and hours that need to be filled,” Collins said. “It really is a big challenge for us to meet our goal and last year we were about $2,000 short.
“The need is still there to help others and we really would like to encourage others to volunteer,” Collins added. “It really is a lot of fun and it is satisfying knowing that you have done something to help those in need.”
Individuals who would like more information or to volunteer as a bell ringer should contact the Salvation Army at 826-1525.
Hope Lecchi can be reached at 660-826-1000 ext. 1484