The familiar “ding, ding, ding” of volunteer bell ringers will begin Nov. 15 for The Salvation Army-Fox Cities Red Kettle Campaign, and this year the organization is rolling out bell-ringing incentives for volunteers.
Alli Oravec, volunteer coordinator, said there will be something special every day.
“Monday is Music Monday, so if you are playing your instrument while you’re ringing the bell and post it on social media, we will see that and your name will be entered into a drawing for a gift card,” she said. “On Family Fun Friday, when a family is ringing the bell and take their picture and post it on social media, the family will be entered into a drawing for a family of four gift card to a getaway, such as Tundra Lodge.”
Donations received in Red Kettles account for a significant portion of the yearly budget of the organization, which celebrated 25 years of operation in September. Volunteer bell ringers are key to funding its programs, including the noon meal, food pantry, housing assistance, Coats for Kids, Adopt-A-Family, Toys for Tots and Christmas food baskets.
“One ringer at the kettle increases donations by 90 percent,” she said. “So we always want people ringing that bell.”
Carol Bloemer, director of the Retired & Senior Volunteer 55+ Program, said RSVP volunteers have a long-standing relationship with the Salvation Army-Fox Cities. In the past 10 years, 56 RSVP volunteers have provided 7,682 hours of service. They ring bells, help with the noon meal, sort donations in the food pantry and assist behind the scenes in the office.
“I love that RSVP volunteers have embraced the work of the Salvation Army,” Bloemer said. “I personally have volunteered with the Salvation Army and know first-hand how they serve the neediest with very little fanfare.”
Oravec said that last year more than 100 community groups and 1,538 volunteers rang bells. This year’s goal is to have 10,000 hours covered in 30 days of bell ringing.
She is optimistic, in spite of losing eight bell-ringing sites when the Shopko stores closed.
“The funds that we raise from the kettles and the rest of our Christmas campaign stay in the community and help us provide for the rest of the year,” she said. “So it’s a big deal. We are hoping that the people who normally ring at the Shopko stores can ring at Pick ‘n Save, Festival and Walgreens.”
One of the programs funded by the Red Kettles is transitional housing. The Salvation Army operates 11 onsite apartments for single men and women who are homeless and 12 rent-controlled sites for families. The program focuses on keeping the home intact and keeping the kids in the school system.
Oravec said the transitional housing and scattered site housing programs have a 90 percent success rate, which means folks get out of the financial crisis they were in and maintain their home.
“Some of the people have mental health struggles that they can’t cope with, while others have an addiction that is hard to deal with,” she said. “There can be a laundry list of things that people struggle with that keeps them homeless.”
Key to the success of the housing program are case managers, who provide support in money management, health, employment and daily living skills.
“We work with the landlords so that we have a relationship with them while they learn life skills and how to break that cycle of crisis,” she said. “We have that relationship with the landlords so they know we are both working together to help them to get back on their feet and stay on their feet.”
Do you have one hour to spare for bell ringing Nov. 15-Dec. 24? To make ringing bells friendlier for families and older adults, bell-ringing schedules have changed from 2-hour shifts to one hour. Sign up at www.registertoring.com or call 920-955-1225.
Salvation Army Volunteer Opportunities
Call 920-955-1232 to volunteer:
Database Entry – Enter families that signed up for Christmas assistance into a database
Coats For Kids assistants – Greet clients, help clients get coats, mittens and scarves
Drop-off assistants – Help donors unload their car and place their donation on the designated spot for the family they adopted
Shopper assistant – Take clients around to help them choose their toys
Cart assistant – Help clients load the toys and gifts into their car
Thank you card assistant – Help clients write a thank-you card that gets sent to their donor
Back stock assistant – Load and unload toys, break down empty boxes and help unload donations in delivery truck
Bell ringing – Ring bells across the Fox Valley beginning Nov. 15-Dec. 24. Sign up at www.registertoring.com or call 920-955-1225.