Salvation Army volunteers make the red kettle season ring
The cooler, crisper air. The shorter days. The leaves changing from luscious greens to golden reds and oranges. All signs point to fall being in full swing, making it hard to believe that Christmas is now just a few months away.
This is a busy time of year for The Salvation Army as we prepare to put out hundreds of red kettles at storefronts across metro Detroit in November. For many, the iconic kettles are a staple of the Christmas season; a sign that the holidays are here and a charitable reminder that it’s better to give than receive.
For faithful Salvation Army supporters, the changing seasons are a cue to make plans to give of their time during the red kettle season. Volunteer bell ringers are at the heart of the annual fundraising campaign. Without them, we would not be able to provide nearly 2.5 million meals and more than 620,000 nights of shelter to metro Detroiters in need each year. Registering to become a bell ringer only takes a few minutes online at ringbell.org.
Scott Wolffis and his family, from Shelby Township, are just one example of volunteer bell ringers dedicated to “Doing the Most Good.” Last year Scott, with his wife Niki and their four children – Aaron, Andy, Alex and Amanda – were instrumental in rallying friends, family and their neighbors in supporting the red kettle campaign. The Wolffis family “adopted” a kettle at a Kroger near their home for one ringing shift each and every day. From November until Christmas Eve, members of the Wolffis clan, or someone from the circle they recruited, spent two hours each evening at that kettle. By ensuring it was manned consistently those few hours a day, the Wolffis’ helped us net an additional 60% in donations over the previous year for that same location.
They’re looking to repeat their effort again this year and are hoping to inspire other metro Detroiters to do just the same.
Ensuring the familiar bells are consistently ringing at all kettles throughout the season is crucial in collecting the funds necessary for The Salvation Army to provide our wide range of programs and services throughout the year. The $100 average in donations generated during each two-hour shift at the hundreds of kettles across the area traditionally accounts for a significant one-third of the money the red kettle campaign raises during the holidays. As a result, unmanned kettles severely impact our progress in reaching each season’s fundraising goal here in metro Detroit — this year it’s $8.2 million.
Karen Joyce regularly answers the volunteer bell ringer call. Over the years, she has spent about 20 hours each season ringing at a Walmart in Warren. That’s despite her being legally blind and having to take a bus from her home in Harper Woods. She perfectly sums up The Salvation Army volunteer experience: “You don’t have to see, you don’t have to hear, you don’t have to walk. You can donate your time and people benefit from it.”
All the money raised at red kettles stays in this community, so you can rest assured someone in metro Detroit will benefit from your generosity year ‘round.
The Salvation Army of Metro Detroit provides more than just meals and shelter. It provides a wide range of programs and critical social services that include resolving legal issues through the William Booth Legal Aid Clinic, offering outdoor experiences through Echo Grove Camp, responding to crises through Emergency Disaster Services, and much more.
If you’d like to help those in need in your community this Christmas season, consider volunteering as a Salvation Army red kettle bell ringer. It’s easy to sign up at ringbell.org to pick the date, time and location that’s most convenient. You can register individually, or as a group. Just two hours of “Doing the Most Good” this season can go a long way for the thousands of people The Salvation Army will assist across metro Detroit in the coming year.