The bells will ring | News, Sports, Jobs

The SALVATION ARMY of Dickinson County, Bread of Life Support Center Case Manager Jennifer Witte and Director Tara Blagec are gearing up for the Red Kettle Campaign, which kicked off this weekend. Bell ringers are needed to help achieve fundraising goals. To volunteer, contact new campaign coordinator Rebecca “Becky” Couper at 906-239-0810. (Terri Castelaz/Photo from the Daily)

KINGSFORD — The festive season is approaching, and with it comes the familiar sight of red kettles and bell ringers.

The Salvation Army of Dickinson County, Bread of Life Assistance Center, kicked off its annual Red Kettle campaign this weekend.

The biggest fundraiser of the year will continue until Christmas Eve, December 24.

The non-profit organization relies heavily on volunteers to help make the campaign a success each year.

Every shift that doesn’t have bells means the Salvation Army is missing out on revenue that could be spent on its programming and pantry because they don’t leave kettles unstaffed, the director of the Salvation Army, Tara Blagec.

“Those two hours of ringing can provide several meals for a family of four,” Blagec said, emphasizing how valuable volunteers are in achieving their goals.

The maker’s campaign outlines the help they are able to provide for the whole year, not just at Christmas. “Funds raised allow us to do everything we do here – it’s huge for our customers we serve”, she says.

The Salvation Army encourages everyone to take a few hours and try the bell.

Volunteers can be of any age — it can be a family event, even involving young children. It’s also a great way for high school students to accumulate volunteer hours.

As in the past, they strongly invite friends, groups or organizations to make it fun by challenging each other, even singing or playing Christmas music.

“We love a good challenge – like service groups, local sports teams or even public safety departments making it a competition,” said case manager Jennifer Witte. “Any business or organization can also issue a challenge, make it fun.”

Organizations, groups and businesses can plan an entire day or even an entire weekend at one location.

“We hope local business owners will allow their employees to take a few hours off to do community service and give back by ringing the bell for the holidays,” Witte said.

Volunteers are asked to work a two-hour shift between 10 a.m. and 8 p.m. at one of their kettle locations: Walmart’s two entrances, Super One Foods, Tadych’s Family Market, Pat’s Foods in Norway, and Northwoods IGA in Niagara, Wis. They also have a kettle from 10am to 6pm at Kingsford Ace Hardware. They noted that these hours may vary in some stores due to a lack of staff.

If a person can only commit for an hour, they’ll be more than willing to work anytime, Blagec added.

The Salvation Army recently welcomed a new Red Kettle Coordinator, Rebecca “Becki” To cut. Anyone wishing to call can contact Couper at 906-239-0810.

They are also offering a cashless way to donate this year with a new “electronic kettle.”

“Donors will be able to use their credit/debit card to ‘tap to give'” Blagec said. “They just have to scan their card on the reader for the amount they wish to donate – $5, $10 or $20 – it’s very simple.”

The local office currently only has one device available, so there will be a rotation of locations.

Community members who cannot participate by ringing the bells can make a difference by participating in other ways, such as choosing to adopt a family or children from the Angel Tree program.

Angel Tree tags will be available on trees at Walmart or by contacting the Kingsford office.

“Donors have the option to choose a child, family or simply purchase a toy to donate that can be used for the program,” Blagec said. “We asked that children’s gifts be given unwrapped, as we want parents to be able to enjoy the wrapping.”

The Salvation Army is accepting applications for its programs. Local offices strive to be good stewards of their resources. “We are continuing our efforts to ensure non-duplication of service”, Blagec said, explaining that people who have registered to receive donations elsewhere will not be eligible for this Christmas program.

Funds raised during the campaign are not only used for holiday relief programs, but to help those in need with their pantries, clothing, social service programs and emergency expenses. All donations remain local.

“A successful season is key to ensuring our agency is able to deliver on our mission every year – boots on the pitch all year round,” Blagec said. “With the support of the community, we can continue to help people in crisis.”

“We are very grateful for the support we receive each year,” Witte added. “Our community has always gotten away with it.”

Those wishing to donate cash can send checks to The Salvation Army, 145 Roseland St., Kingsford MI 49802 or PO Box 218, Iron Mountain, MI 49801.

Those with questions about a program or interested in adopting a family for Christmas can contact the Salvation Army office at 906-779-5717.

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