Volunteer Eddie Myers stood outside Wal-Mart, smiling despite the cold as he rang a bell by a red kettle, encouraging people to donate to the Salvation Army.
The Salvation Army in Isanti County raises most of its annual budget from the dedication of bell-ringing volunteers who stand at red kettles outside stores during the holiday season.
“It’s a special time of year and there are families in need,” Myers said. “People don’t have to worry about giving their family a Christmas when there are places like Salvation Army.”
Last year the organization raised $35,000 from the red kettles over four weekends. Unit Director for Isanti County Salvation Army Kory Erickson said they’d love to match or surpass that number.
“We’ve done this over 15 years, and we have surpassed our goal of beating last year every time,” he said. “People in Isanti County have been very gracious and we’ve made our goal and surpassed it every year.”
He said 90 percent of the money raised goes toward programs in the community, including providing back-to-school supplies, Thanksgiving meals and Easter meals to families in need.
“It’s pretty much our bread and butter as far as bringing in the money to help these families in the county,” Erickson said. “The need is here and it’s not going away very soon. It seems to be growing. The needs in Isanti County have increased tenfold since we started this.”
Bell-ringing shifts are two hours between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, with the season running until Christmas. The red kettles can be found at Wal-Mart and Cub Foods in Cambridge and at Riverside Market in Isanti.
“I can’t say enough about my volunteers,” Erickson said. “We wouldn’t be able to do these programs without these people out there standing in the cold bell ringing. Some programs wouldn’t be available in Isanti County if not for these bell ringers.”
To volunteer, call bell-ringing coordinator Darwin Larson at 763-689-1655.