In the midst of holiday shopping, when the familiar ringing of a bell fills the air, some people take a moment to drop change into red pots to help those less fortunate. But this year, as volunteers fan out across the nation with bells and pots in hand, The Salvation Army faces difficulties that jeopardize its efforts.
This past weekend the bell ringers began collecting donations at Wal-Mart and Kroger, with small table-top kettles on display at several businesses around the community. The main problem is not where to put them, but who will volunteer their time to ring those bells.
The Salvation Army has been assisting the needy for 139 years. Now, various services are in danger of being cut because of a lack of volunteers and more businesses denying Army bell ringers a place to hang their pots. This year Target, the second largest donation site in the nation, joined Toys "R" Us, Kohl's department stores and Barnes & Noble in denying the Salvation Army because of blanket no-solicitation policies.
So, the effort continues in places where the Salvation Army volunteers are welcome. Not only are fewer businesses welcoming the Salvation Army, but more volunteers are needed. "We really need 50 to 60 volunteers willing to give an hour or two of their time to help man the kettles," said Dianna Knox, Clay County Salvation Army Kettle Campaign Coordinator.
She carries time schedules around with her to immediately sign up anyone interested in helping.
"We can put out a kettle to collect donations, but it works better if there's someone there ringing a bell," she said.