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Salvation Army asks community to help ring in the holidays

By Staff | Nov 29, 2008

“Black Friday” marks the official opening of the Christmas retail season and The Salvation Army is asking local residents to volunteer as bell ringers for the next month of shopping.
In front of grocery stores, malls or community centers, volunteers for the 2008 Red Kettle Campaign ring a bell and greet passing residents with a smile. Last year, the campaign assisted 3,700 families during Christmas and they are looking for more volunteers this year to combat the effects of the troubled economy.
Last Christmas season the organization gave out 38,000 gifts and 5,100 food baskets.
“We are asking our community to come out and ring for those who are in need,” said Major Art Penhale, corps officer of The Salvation Army of Lee and Hendry County. “The Kettles are our life line for Christmas fund raising. Without the donations, we would not be able to provide for the families who need us.”
The proceeds from the Red Kettle campaign provide families with toys for children and trimmings for holiday meals.
Last week the kettle campaign officially began and will end on Dec. 24. Volunteers can choose whether they want to ring bells during the day or night, and many of them are calling to reserve locations. Furthermore, there won’t be any ringing on Sunday.
Also in preparation for holiday fund raising, The Salvation Army is asking residents to donate old gift cards that can be distributed to needy families. Cards can be dropped off inside local red kettles.
Gift cards are popular throughout the holidays, but many people don’t use all of the card’s balance, stated representatives from The Salvation Army.
“So many of us have leftover gift cards with a dollar or two remaining on the balance,” said Penhale. “There’s not much you can buy in a store for a dollar or two these days. But we can turn those unused dollars into support for our kettle campaign and the thousands of families that turn to us for help, not only during the Christmas season, but also throughout the year.”
The charity organization estimates that $60 billion will be spent on gift cards this holiday season, and 10 percent of that will go unused — a total of approximately $6 billion. Recently, The Salvation Army devised a way to turn unused gift cards into funding for needy families.
For information on signing up as a volunteer, call 278-1551.