White breath on frozen air. Shopping for presents. Candle lights and church bells. The holidays are coming and The Salvation Army needs volunteers bell ringers to staff this year’s Red Kettle Campaign in Summit County. There are 9,000 one-hour spots waiting to be filled by individuals, families, sports teams, businesses, book clubs, and any other organization. From Nov. 12 until Christmas Eve, volunteers will be out every day except Sundays at approved retailers with bells and classic red kettles.
Many slots will be stationed indoors and out of the elements. School-age volunteers can earn community service credit as long as those under 18 are accompanied by an adult. Time slots are available from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. and shifts can be arranged to fit volunteers’ schedules.
Marian Calvin, the director of development, suggested first-time volunteers sign up for a two-hour block because the minimum hour flies by once "you’re looking people in the eyes, saying ‘Merry Christmas’ and ringing the bell."
Groups and businesses volunteering together are encouraged. If nine members each take an hour out of their day, almost a whole day of shifts gets covered in one swoop. The Salvation Army also offers to put the name of the business that is volunteering on that kettle for promotional purposes. Red kettle locations are spread throughout Summit County to allow volunteers to work close to their home or business.
"We are especially grateful for Albrecht Grocery and Acme Fresh Market," said Calvin. "Through the years, their biggest contribution has been allowing us to have kettles at all of their stores."
The Salvation Army hopes to raise $350,000 for its holiday and year-round programs. Most donations are anonymous, but those that donate via checks will receive receipts for tax credit in the mail.
For 132 years, The Salvation Army has served Summit County by providing basic needs like food, clothing, shelter, and education. The money raised in the Red Kettle Campaign not only goes to toys and meal baskets during the holidays, but also to long-term programs like daily hot meals and showers, the Learning Zone Preschool, and emergency family shelters. The mission in Summit County is to break the cycle of inter-generational poverty without discrimination.
Despite being part of a global organization, The Salvation Army in Summit County operates as a separate entity. All money raised in Summit County stays in Summit County.
"We are not underwritten or given money from any regional, divisional, national or international organization," Calvin said. "So the proceeds bring on even more importance knowing that people in Summit County will benefit from the gifts in that kettle," said Calvin.
To sign up as a volunteer, contact Maj. Linda Jackson at 330-434-7165.