The Salvation Army Red Kettle campaign is underway and one leader says they face a problem familiar to others seeking part-time help.

Major Jason Poff oversees the campaign for the Des Moines area. “The giving had been good — our challenge really is having enough bell ringers to be out at all the locations. When we’ve had bell ringers out there — people have responded well.”

He says they ask bell ringers to do a two-hour shift and they can select from Monday through Saturday. “We have a very convenient website: Where you can go on there and you can pick the location you want. You can be indoor or outdoor, you can be pretty specific with it,” he says. “And then it will send you a reminder ‘hey you signed up to ring the bell today’.”

Poff says he’s heard from counterparts in other areas of the state that they are having the same problem finding enough bell ringers. He says bell ringers do benefit from volunteering. “I have found that people get a lot of joy — they may not realize it — but they get a lot of joy out standing there and greeting people and wishing them a Merry Christmas,” Poff says.

Poff says the Red Kettle campaign helps them carry out their mission — and that’s something everyone can feel good about.
“Our business this time of year is not the kettles or the food or the toys really — it’s about hope. It’s about giving the people in need hope. And we do that through financial assistance, we do that through toys,” according to Poff. “And for people to come along and realize that that’s what they’re doing, they’re really becoming hope ambassadors and giving people hope through the couple hours they are ringing at the bell or through the dollar they put in the bucket. That really gives them a sense of joy as well.”

Poff says there are good economic signs with Iowa record low unemployment and holiday spending that is projected to increase — but there are still those who need a hand. “The need in the community always outpaces the resources,” Poff explains. “So while things can be looking up economically and job-market wise, there are still people in need for various reason. So, we rely on a giving community to respond and help us meet that need.”

Poff asks all Iowans to go online and see how they can help their local Salvation Army meet the needs in their community. The Red Kettle Campaign runs through Christmas Eve.