The familiar ring of the Salvation Army bells is back to kick off the Christmas season.
The Red Kettle Bell Ringing Campaign for the Salvation Army began in San Francisco in 1891 and, today, is a seasonal tradition. According to The Salvation Army’s website, last year’s campaign raised $142 million to provide aid for those in need. Liberty has helped sponsor the campaign over the years and will once again staff the food entrance of the Wards Road Walmart from Nov. 11 to Dec. 24.
“I feel this is an important cause for several reasons,” Liberty’s Salvation Army committee representative Darren Wu said. “Collectively, it demonstrates to the community that Liberty cares about them and is an active part of the community. Individually, participants get an opportunity to be reminded that there are real needs out there that can be met by sacrificing just a little time.”
Last year, over $220,000 was raised locally with all kettle locations combined. At Liberty’s location, $11,700, about 18 percent of the total amount, was raised. All kettle donations go directly to the local Salvation Army to provide holiday help for families in need and support for their annual budget in housing, food and health care.
Not only do the red kettles support a great cause, but they also unite the Liberty community. This year, 17 different departments have volunteered for kettle duty. This is in addition to the athletic departments that are involved. By the close of the campaign, about 300 different Liberty participants will have endured the cold weather to give back to the community, according to Wu.
“Standing in the cold for a few hours, ringing a bell, is a good trade to give someone a warm meal and a festive holiday,” Resident Assistant and Liberty senior Lisa Youngerman said.
For Academic Associate Dean of the College of General Studies Dr. Bruce Bell giving back to the community is very important. He was involved last Christmas and will help again this year.
“The satisfaction that comes from being part of the Red Kettle Campaign is the best part of giving an hour of my time, and it was encouraging to see the generosity of people in the community who reached deep into their pockets to contribute,” Bell said.
Administrative Assistant to Dean Akers of the Helms School of Government Shirley Jena Henderson remembers a particular family bundled up for winter. One of the children asked Henderson if she could ring the bell. When an elderly lady came to drop money into the kettle, the little girl responded, ‘Wow daddy, that grandma just put some dollars in my bell.’”
“(These parents) were teaching their children at an early age how important it is to contribute to others,” Bell said.
Although students help, the campaign at Walmart tapers off during Thanksgiving and Christmas break when Liberty students disperse. For this reason, many staff and faculty are needed.
“Volunteers show up with the love of Christ, their smiles and the willingness to serve,” Wu said.
Help is still needed Nov. 23, Dec. 16-17 and Dec. 20-24. If interested in volunteering, contact Wu at 592-2416 or firstname.lastname@example.org. To learn more about the Red Kettle Campaign or the Salvation Army, visit www.salvationarmyusa.org or visit the local Salvation Army on 2215 Park Avenue.