Salvation Army bell ringing need is greater than ever in 2020

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By Correne Martin

 

The Salvation Army of Crawford County, now more than ever, is looking for volunteers to ring the bell for its annual Red Kettle Campaign. 

Considering the COVID-19 pandemic, the organization is fearing an anticipated $10,000 decrease in donations for 2020, said board chair and new Kettle Campaign coordinator Roby Fuller. Yet it is presumed that there will be a greater number of families and individuals in distressed situations this year due to the challenges the coronavirus has posed upon many. 

“I hope we’re still going to be able to service a lot of people,” Fuller stated.

Under the guidance of then-coordinator Jen Kapinus, 2019 holiday season bell ringers and donations brought in a record $23,417 to assist Crawford County residents and transients in need throughout 2020, noted Fuller, who is also the director of the county’s Aging and Disability Resource Center (ADRC) of Eagle Country office.

According to 2019 Crawford County Salvation Army statistics, 269 people were assisted with emergency needs, including shelter, food, health care and transportation. Of the money provided in financial assistance, 81 percent went to housing or homelessness prevention, 6 percent went toward gas for a vehicle, 3 percent went to purchase clothing, 10 percent paid for people’s utilities. Additionally, the local Salvation Army coordinated some special projects with its funds, and those involved providing Bibles for prisoners, Christmas gifts for children and Easter celebrations. 

Fuller said 86 percent of what was raised by last year’s local Red Kettle Campaign remained in the county. The remaining 14 percent was used for administration, disaster assistance, etc.

Bell ringer sign-up

Though some individuals may feel uncomfortable ringing the bell this year, the Salvation Army remains optimistic that there are many who may still want to help fill the schedule at bell ringing stations at Walmart and Zinkle’s Piggly Wiggly in Prairie du Chien. Masks and other COVID-19 safety precautions will be a priority. 

Community members may volunteer to ring the bell, starting Saturday, Nov. 21, at either of these establishments, every Wednesday through Saturday, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. until Christmas. Sign up for a time online this year by going to RegisterToRing.com. If you can’t access online sign-up or have issues, call (608) 379-1356 and leave a message, or send an email to SalvationArmyCrawfordCounty@yahoo.com.

Donate online

Also, with fewer people going into stores per COVID-19 cautionary recommendations, Fuller said there will be an option to donate virtually this year, and that donation will still stay in Crawford County and help people here at home. There are two simple ways to do this: text “local” to 24365, or use your smartphone to scan the QR code included at the beginning of this article. 

The Prairie du Chien Police Department is also ringing the bell for the Salvation Army at Cabela’s this year, and the public is encouraged to donate there in addition to the Piggly Wiggly and Walmart locations, or via the tabletop red kettles located at various stores throughout the county. 

Other kids’ and elder Christmas programs

While the Red Kettle Campaign will help fund 2021 needs, Fuller said, it was decided to discontinue the typical Christmas program that Kapinus had organized in the past through the Salvation Army—at least for 2020.

Anyone desiring help still getting presents from Santa’s list to their good little boys and girls is encouraged to contact the Prairie du Chien Rotary Club, which manages the Crawford County Operation Santa program.

If you are a senior citizen, over the age of 60, you are also eligible to receive a little extra holiday cheer through a new Elf to an Elder program the ADRC is doing this season. Contact the ADRC at 326-0235 to register by Tuesday, Dec. 15, and provide information for the elves who may be shopping for you. Volunteers are also needed right now to shop for the “elders” participating, and cash donations will be accepted toward purchasing gifts as well. 

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