Bells Will Be Ringing
We’re all suffering from excruciating election anxiety, and the European model shows New Orleans yet again in the cone of uncertainty for a hurricane. Plus, each morning we awake wondering if that tickle in our nose represents the beginnings of COVID-19 and some of us still don’t have electricity or internet. It’s almost too much to bear.
Though I usually hold considerable scorn for those who start the Christmas season before the Thanksgiving leftovers are devoured, I think it’s decidedly time for a bit of Christmas kindness and hope.
The Salvation Army couldn’t agree more, which is why they are asking people to rescue Christmas by signing up to be bell ringers in its Red Kettle Campaign.
From its beginnings as a local San Francisco fundraiser featuring a single crab pot in 1891, the Red Kettle Campaign has grown into one of the most recognizable charitable campaigns in the United States.
The funds raised make a year-round impact in our communities through social services assistance, homeless shelters, disaster relief, children’s programs, rehabilitation services, anti-human trafficking and more.
According to our local Salvation Army, based on the increase in services already provided in response to the pandemic, the organization could serve up to 155 percent more people this season.
“In Greater New Orleans, we served 1,800 people last Christmas,” says Major Christopher Thornhill, Greater New Orleans area commander at the Salvation Army. “If we see the same level of increased requests for service, that will mean more than 2,700 people will need our help this holiday season.”
An easy way to help is to discover the joy of volunteer bell ringing. Bell ringers raise an average of $50 per hour and typically work four-hour shifts.
“Bell ringers are encouraged to have fun during their shift,” says Michelle Linton, director of development. “It isn’t all about ringing a bell. Sometimes a smile and a ‘Merry Christmas’ are more effective at moving a donor to give. Many bell ringers are treated to stories about how the Salvation Army affected the donor’s life.”
Last year the local campaign raised $230,000 with roughly 100 volunteer bell ringers.
“All money raised in the Greater New Orleans area stays in the community to help our neighbors in need,” says Thornhill.
This year bell ringers will be instructed to follow CDC and local guidelines related to exposure and not to volunteer for any activity if exhibiting symptoms or if they have a known exposure to anyone with COVID-19 in the last 14 days.
“They will be provided with masks and instructed to follow state and local safety protocols,” says Thornbill.
All kettle equipment will be cleaned prior to use in accordance with guidelines and kettle signs will be enabled with Apple/Google Pay technology, providing an additional contactless form of donation.
“For the past several years, my family has gathered to ring the Salvation Army bell and collect donations for those in need,” says Tim Scandurro. “It’s an easy way to make a real difference in people’s lives and to get the whole family into the true spirit and meaning of the season.”
For more information on becoming a Salvation Army bell ringer, visit RegisterToRing.com. The campaign starts on November 14.
Mission: The Salvation Army, an international movement, is an evangelical part of the universal Christian Church. Its message is based on the Bible. Its ministry is motivated by the love of God. Its mission is to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and to meet human needs in His name without discrimination.
How Can Readers Help? By volunteering as a bell ringer or by donating at a local kettle site.
How can Businesses Help?
Businesses can request a kettle at their places of business or sponsor a kettle for a day. For more information, contact Michelle Linton at 504-899-4569.
Address: 4530 S Claiborne Ave., New Orleans
Phone: (504) 899-4569