How do you feed 13 people in one hour?
One way—according to the Salvation Army—simply involves ringing a bell during the non-profit organization’s annual Red Kettle Campaign.
Locally, the Salvation Army held its annual Red Kettle Kickoff event on Friday as volunteer bell ringers made their way out into the community and collected donations to raise funds for the organization’s various programs and services.
The Red Kettle Kickoff, which was held at the Salvation Army at 707 N I St, included Chamber Coffee, a performance by the Fremont Middle School Ladies First choral ensemble, and an address from Salvation Army Cpt. Stephen Hansen.
According to Hansen, the local Salvation Army’s Red Kettle goal is to raise $40,000.
“I did the math and if everyone in the county threw $1.10 in the kettle we would meet our goal and exceed it,” he said.
While bell ringers got a jump on the campaign by going out for a few hours last weekend said Hansen, they started in earnest on Friday but only at a few of the locations local residents will see them throughout the holiday season.
Currently bell ringers can be found at Hy-Vee and Hobby Lobby, and more will be found throught the community following Thanksgiving — at locations including Baker’s, Wal-Mart, Walgreens and the post office.
Hansen said there is still a great need for volunteer bell ringers as only 200 of a total of 1,600 hours of bell ringing have been signed up for so far.
“We need to fill those up because when the kettles aren’t manned—they don’t make money,” he said. “Every one of us could take a couple hours and fill those very quickly.”
While the Kettle Campaign end after Christmas, the Salvation Army’s overall Winter Fundraising Campaign continues through the end of January. The campaign – including the Red Kettle Campaign – serves as the non-profit’s financial backing for much of the year, in particular, the holiday season when so many families are in need of food and other supplies.
“Our goal is an easy goal — its to assist people here in our community that need our assistance,” Hansen said. “People who need utility help, need budgeting, clothing, food and other types of assistance.”
The local Salvation Army’s overall Christmas Campaign goal is to raise a total of $185,700.
“We hope to do this through a number of different ways,” Hansen said. “Through kettles, direct mail, people stopping by, and through the Adopt-a-Family that First National Bank does for us every year.”
Hundreds of Fremont residents will donate their time ringing bells and collecting money for the Salvation Army this holiday season and people are urged to volunteer for an hour-long time slot by calling the Salvation Army at 402-721-0930, or by visiting www.registertoring.com.
“None of us can raise all the funds without the help of each other,” Hansen said. “I love being out there and I think it brings a lot of joy to the community. We all have an hour here or there that we can volunteer and if we all do that we will fill up every single hour that we have available.”
While volunteering as a bell ringer is needed and appreciated, anybody who simply puts in some change into the kettle is making a difference.
“We used to have these signs that said “Put in Change, and Expect Change,” Hansen said. “What it basically meant was that no one could really raise the total by themselves, but every penny, dime or nickel helps us reach our goal so we can assist people in the community who need help.”