by Dennis Dalman
The holiday season is nigh, and bells are ringing once again in the frosty air – Salvation Army red-kettle bells, that is.
There are about 100 people ringing bells in front of businesses throughout the area, but more are needed. How many more?
“Oh, goodness, hundreds,” said Shannon Smithers, special-events coordinator for the St. Cloud-based Salvation Army. “We could use hundreds more.”
Each bell ringer works a two-hour block of time. There are ringers at the following locations: All Coborn’s stores, all Cash Wise stores, ShopKo, Kmart, Walmart, Sam’s Club, Fleet Farm, Byerly’s, Macy’s, J.C. Penney and in Clearwater at the Coborn’s store and the truck stop.
Bell-ringers begin at 10 a.m. and finish at 8 p.m. in the two-hour blocks of time.
The annual seasonal bell-ringing red-kettle event is the biggest annual fundraiser by the Salvation Army. This year, a new red-kettle feature is available on the SA’s website. People can choose to put their names on a red-kettle, then get donations from friends, family, acquaintances and co-workers to put into the online red kettles. To learn more, visit the SA website.
To volunteer as a bell-ringer, go to the Salvation Army website at salvationarmynorth.org. Or call at 320-252-4552.
Other seasonal needs of the Salvation Army are the following:
The name of the Salvation Army’s toys-for-kids program is Angel Tree. Some stores, with help from the SA, set up “Angel Trees” and then the Salvation Army puts up decorations on the tree with the names and ages of people who are suffering financial difficulties. Shoppers can choose a tag and buy gifts for that person or persons.
People can also contribute to the toy program by writing a check to the Salvation Army with the words “Angel Tree” on the memo line.
Any business who would like an Angel Tree should call the SA at 320-252-4552.
Food supplies at the Salvation Army Food Shelf are down considerably because of an increased need, Smithers noted. Last year, 300 tons of food were distributed at the SA Food Shelf.
People who want to contribute can bring food items to the Salvation Army center at 400 Hwy. 10 S. near Michael’s Restaurant. Or they can write a check to the Salvation Army and put “Food Shelf” on the memo line.
Local restaurants can participate in Philanthro Feed, a program that can feed between 150 to 180 special meals on Philanthro Feed days at the SA.
Recently, on Nov. 8, two Sartell businesses teamed up for a Philanthro Feed – Anejos Mexican restaurant in Sartell and Sartell businessman Bob Ringstrom, owner of Strata Personnel Solutions. The meals served were rice, refried beans, shredded chicken in sauce, beef tacos, fruit and salad.
“That meal was absolutely delicious,” Smithers said. “Delicious!”
It’s possible to serve up to 14 meals a week via Philanthro Feed, but now the SA averages about two per week. Smithers is hoping more restaurants and contributors will become interested in Philanthro Feed.
There are several options for getting involved in the program, Smithers noted. For example, a donor can provide the food or team up with others to do so, and the SA cooks can use that food to cook the meals on the premises. Or the business owners can help prepare the food and help serve the meals.
“It’s a good way for them to see their dollars in action,” Smithers said.
Anyone wishing to donate to the above programs specifically or to SA in general should send a check to: St. Cloud Salvation Army, 400 Hwy. 10 S., St. Cloud, Minn. 56304. The phone number is 320-252-4552.