Red Kettle campaign under way

It’s November and the Salvation Army bell ringers are back, reminding shoppers to share with the less fortunate during the holiday season.

“We have a lot of people coming to us for Christmas help this year. In fact we’ve already nearly surpassed the number of requests we had last year,” said Major Karen Garrett with the Salvation Army in Marietta.

The red kettle campaign brought in nearly $57,000 during 2012.

“We rely on contributions all year, but this is our biggest fundraiser and the money is used to help people not only for Christmas, but through the winter months, too,” Garrett said. “When Christmas is over they still need to get through the cold months from January to March.”

She said there are always needs that crop up for those who can least afford it over the winter.

“Their car may break down and they have no other way to get to work, so they have to decide between getting the car fixed and paying utility bills,” Garrett added. “There are always emergencies we’re trying to help with.”

Key to the red kettle campaign are the bell ringers who man the kettle stations at entrances to several local businesses six days a week until Christmas Eve.

The kettles are currently located at Kmart, Kroger, and Food 4 Less in Marietta and at the Belpre Kroger store. On Friday kettle stations will also be located at Walmart on Pike Street and Warren’s IGA on Muskingum Drive.

“We maintain a list of volunteers, but many have jobs and may not be available at the times we need a bell ringer,” Garrett said. “So we’re still looking for volunteers who can work a flexible schedule.”

Anyone interested in helping with the kettle campaign or the Salvation Army’s other Christmas-related activities is encouraged to call the Marietta headquarters at 373-4043.

Garrett noted some local groups also assist with the campaign each year, like the Marietta Noon Rotary Club who will be bell ringing at temporary red kettle locations during the Merry-Etta Moonlight Savings Sale that begins at 5 p.m. Dec. 6.

“This is the first time we’ve helped during the Merry-Etta event, but historically the Rotary Club used to ring bells for the Salvation Army kettle drives in the past,” said Tom Perry, president-elect of the Marietta Noon Rotary.

He said the club’s sign-up sheet for the event filled up quickly.

“The club members were pretty excited to be doing this at four downtown locations for the Salvation Army that night,” said Perry.

Another local group that assists with the kettle campaign every year is the Marietta Kiwanis Club.

“We’re doing the bell ringing at Walmart all day on Saturday, Dec. 7,” said Ann Hontz, past president of the local Kiwanis Club.

“We’ll have pretty close to 30 volunteers who will take different shifts of about an hour each in case it turns cold,” she said, noting volunteers will also come from the Builders Club at Marietta Middle School, Key Club at Marietta High, and the Circle K Club at Marietta College.

“It’s all about helping people who need it most, and about giving back to your community,” Hontz said.