The Christmas season is still a couple months away, but recruiting season for Salvation Army bell ringers has begun. Volunteers are needed for Red Kettle campaigns that launch around the state in early to mid November.
Arvid Huisman , with The Salvation Army in Des Moines, says those who sign up now will most likely be assured of landing their preferred location, dates and time slots. Many families sign up to oversee a Red Kettle every year.
“We hear (parents) say that it’s a good way to help their children understand that there are a lot of people who will not have the kind of Christmas that they will,” Huisman said. “It’s a good lesson for kids in helping others.”
Most of the money raised by The Salvation Army supports programs to aid disaster victims, the disabled, the hungry and provide opportunities for underprivileged children. Nearly 33 million Americans receive assistance from The Salvation Army each year. Huisman has noticed Red Kettles that are left unattended don’t collect near as much money as those that have a bell ringer. Some bell ringers get creative with their fundraising techniques.
“Some folks will play an instrument or sing. There’s a lady who will bring a karaoke machine and sing along with that,” Huisman said. “People like that. It just adds to the festivity of the season.” The Red Kettle campaign is The Salvation Army’s biggest annual fundraiser.
Huisman says, in Des Moines, the campaign generates about half of the operation’s annual budget. Iowans who would like become a bell ringer are asked to contact their local Salvation Army office for more information. The cities that have Red Kettle campaigns include; Des Moines, Waterloo, Cedar Rapids, Dubuque, Council Bluffs, Sioux City, Mason City, Davenport, Clinton, Keokuk, Ottumwa and Marshalltown.