Red Kettle Kickoff

Volunteers Sought For Annual Campaign Drive

Julie Monagle, Salvation Army bell ringer, said she enjoys volunteering to bell ring so she can give back to the organization and, in turn, the community. The organization is currently looking for volunteers for the annual campaign drive that supports many local groups. P-J photos by Katrina Fuller

Shoppers will now be greeted with the iconic red kettles and the sound of ringing bells at local stores from now until just before Christmas.

The Salvation Army’s annual Red Kettle Campaign kicked off Friday with bell ringers dispersed throughout Chautauqua County at a variety of locations, including at Tops Markets, Wal-Mart, Sam’s Club and other locations. There are also a few bell ringers located in Cassadaga and Sinclairville, according to Salvation Army Major John Merchant.

Merchant oversees both the Dunkirk and Jamestown Salvation Army organizations.

Bell ringers will be out ringing their bells Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. up until Dec. 23, Merchant said. However, he said the organization had to hire bell ringers this year because there were not enough volunteers to keep the campaign up and running.

“We’re hoping once we get the message out, we can get a lot more bell ringers,” Merchant said.

Bell ringers can now be found Monday through Saturday at several stores throughout the county from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. through Dec. 23.

He said volunteering a few hours of time can be “extraordinarily helpful” to the organization during the campaign. Or, to change things up, Merchant suggested providing a coffee or a hot chocolate to someone who is volunteering.

“They’re out there for long hours sometimes,” Merchant said. “That would help out, too.”

The campaign is a main fundraiser for the Salvation Army. The financial goal for the Jamestown location is $112,000, while the goal is $58,000 for the Dunkirk location.

Locally, it helps the organization provide many services to the community, such as the Christmas Assistance Program, which provides both the Angel Tree Ministry Christmas gift program for children and the Christmas food basket program. The Community Cares Program, meanwhile, provides nursing home programs to residents every month, while the Bundle Them Up program provides coats for children every year.

Various services at the ANEW Center benefits from the campaign.

Julie Monagle, a bell ringer for the Salvation Army, said she was glad to start ringing for the campaign Friday.

“I actually started (volunteering) this year,” Monagle said. “You never know what could happen. They’re a good organization, and in these times, we definitely need programs like them.”

Monagle said she feels the organization does a lot for the community. In addition, she said there are very few volunteers available this year and wanted to encourage others to support the organization through volunteerism.

“All they have to do is go down to the Salvation Army and tell them they want to volunteer,” she said. “They will set you up with a place. You can do whatever fits your schedule.”

Those who are interested in volunteering or to hear more about the campaign, call 664-4108.