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Salvation Army seeks Metro Detroit holiday bell-ringers

Charles E. Ramirez
The Detroit News

Royal Oak — The Salvation Army wants you. To be a bell-ringer.

This week, the Salvation Army Eastern Michigan Division kicked off its effort to recruit volunteers to ring bells at the iconic red kettles it places at storefronts across Metro Detroit to raise money for the needy.

“It’s a huge blessing for us to have folks from our community come in and give of their time,” said Capt. Peter Mount, corps officer and pastor of the Salvation Army’s Royal Oaks Corps. “The more volunteers we can get, the more sites we can fill. The more (money we can raise), the more people we can serve. And the need is out there.”

The nonprofit is holding its annual Bell-Ringer Recruitment Fair through Friday. It’s looking to fill hundreds of volunteer shifts at red kettle locations between Nov. 11 through Christmas Eve, excluding Thanksgiving and Sundays. Shifts are about four-hours long.

The charity seeks enthusiastic individuals, families or groups to volunteer as bell-ringers.

Last year, more than 1,250 Metro Detroiters volunteered as bell-ringers during the holiday season, totaling more than 9,200 hours.

Proceeds from the nonprofit’s Red Kettle fundraising campaign help support its year-round programs and services, including feeding and sheltering the homeless, rehabilitation centers, emergency disaster services and nurturing programs for adults, children and seniors.

Toni Kage, 83, and his wife, Katherine Duncan, 61, both of Troy, have volunteered to be bell-ringers for years.

“I like meeting people,” said Kage, who first volunteered to ring a bell in 2004. “I like talking to people and hearing some good stories. It’s a lot of fun and I like giving back to my community.”

The couple often rings together on Friday nights at the Hollywood Market in Troy. They’re known for their effervescent personalities and donning festive head wear, such as turkey headbands around Thanksgiving and Santa hats around Christmas.

Duncan, who’s done it for the last eight or nine years, said the couple looks forward to bell-ringing every year.

“It’s like Toni tells people he meets when he’s bell-ringing: ‘This is more than just putting money in a bucket. This might feed a family. This might buy toys for kids at Christmas.’”

Duncan also said she actively tries to recruit other volunteers when she’s bell-ringing.

“I tell everybody I see,” she said. “Do it. You’ll have a blast.”

cramirez@detroitnews.com

Bell-ringers

To volunteer as a bell-ringer, register at one of the following locations between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m., unless noted otherwise:

■Dearborn Heights, 26700 W. Warren Ave. (10 a.m.-2 p.m.)

■Detroit Conner Creek, 3000 Conner

■Detroit Grandale, 11325 Montrose

■Detroit Harbor Light, 3737 Lawton

■Detroit Temple, 3729 W. Chicago

■Farmington Hills, 27500 Shiawassee

■Mount Clemens, 55 Church

■Plymouth, 9451 S. Main

■Pontiac, 469 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. S.

■Royal Oak, 3015 N. Main St. (9 a.m.-noon)

■Warren, 24140 Mound Rd.

■Wayne/Westland, 2300 Venoy (8:30 a.m.-4 p.m.)

■Wyandotte, 1258 Biddle (9 a.m.-noon and 1-4 p.m.)

Volunteers also can register at www.ringbell.org. They can use the website to choose preferred dates, times and locations throughout the Red Kettle fundraising season, too. Call (248) 443-5500 to find the nearest Salvation Army location.

Source: The Salvation Army