Salvation Army begins Red Kettle campaign

News Photo by Jason Ogden Alpena resident Kyle Palmer rings a bell for the Alpena Salvation Army Red Kettle donation drive in front of the Alpena Post Office Monday. Bell ringers began their annual donation drive Nov. 10 and are located at many businesses all over the city.

ALPENA — Volunteers and staff with the Salvation Army have begun the annual Red Kettle donation campaign with bell ringers at area businesses collecting donations for Christmas.

Capt. Amy Cedervall said bell ringing this year began Nov. 10 at most businesses but Friday will be the full kickoff for the annual fundraiser, with volunteers and employees at each of the city’s locations throughout the day well into December.

She said although it seems early this year it’s not.

“It’s about the same time for it, really seems early this year,” she said. “We try to get out a week and a half before Thanksgiving.”

Cedervall said this year organizers are working to get other collection points and more funding because a major collection area, the Kmart store, is closed.

She said a new location has been added, Fitzpatrick’s Hardware.

“We’re hoping it will be a good spot this year and take some of the slack for Kmart. We’re excited they let us collect there,” she said. “Also Tractor Supply is a relatively new one and that’s been successful and a good partnership.”

Other collection locations currently are Neiman’s Family Market, Big Lots, the Alpena Mall, JC Penney, Sav-A-Lot and the Alpena Post Office. There are smaller collection buckets around the county at various businesses as well.

Cedervall said after Thanksgiving Perch’s IGA and Walmart will be additional collection locations.

According to Cedervall this year’s annual Christmas donation goal is $170,000, which includes the Red Kettle efforts, mail appeal donations and people who bring in donations to the Salvation Army offices.

She said this year’s goal for Red Kettle donations alone is $80,000. Much of this collection work throughout the holiday season is conducted by volunteer bell ringers, she said.

“We have a lot of volunteer ringers. We’re very appreciative that they’re willing to come out, but we do have a good number of paid ringers as well,” she said.

Cedervall said many of the ringers are paid by Salvation Army and make up a segment of the population who need employment and may have utilized Salvation Army in the past.

“We look at that as part of our ministry. We hire some of those people who have been searching for work and have been struggling. It may only be seasonable, but it’s a way to help them catch up or at least provide some relief during the holidays,” Cedervall said.

That being said volunteer ringers take priority because the fewer people Salvation Army has to pay the more it can make in fundraising. She said anyone interested in volunteering can call 358-2769.

Cedervall said the fundraiser goes to helping out quite a bit in different areas during the holiday season.

“It doesn’t cover our entire budget. It helps us keep our doors open so we can provide our services,” she said. “We use the money to give out food boxes to make sure people have a Christmas meal and we have enough toys for every child who is signed up on our list. It’s also beyond that, we use it throughout the year so we can afford to keep our doors open.”

Cedarville said a few coins go a long way on donations.

“It’s one of those things that until you really see a coin machine working you have no idea how fast those pennies and quarters add up,” she said. “It may not seem like a big deal for a person to put spare change in there but we’re really appreciative of them.”

Jason Ogden can be reached via email at jogden@thealpenanews.com or by phone at 358-5693. Follow Jason on Twitter @jo_alpenanews.