The gentle chime of bells is a well-known holiday tradition.
It is especially prevalent outside local businesses as a helpful reminder to get in the giving spirit. Across the nation, volunteers will be taking up the bell and standing beside the bright red kettles in hopes people passing by will stop long enough to drop a donation in the bucket.
Getting its start a little early in Newton, the annual Red Kettle Campaign began Nov. 9. Residents will see volunteers chiming away throughout the city at Faraway, Hy-Vee, True Value, Theisen’s and Walmart.
Captain Janelle Cleaveland said this year’s goal is set at $37,000. Last year, the local chapter passed its goal of $34,000 raising $36,000. This year the goal has increased again in order to help more people in need.
“We believe that God will provide and the people of Jasper County will show up and support us as they have in the past,” Cleaveland said.
The Red Kettle Campaign is a long standard to the Salvation Army. Beginning in 1891 in San Francisco, the tradition remains alive today and is an integral part of the nonprofit’s mission.
“It’s very, very important. Most of the money we raise for the year is raised in November and December. So it helps us to help people all year round,” Cleaveland said.
The campaign has changed after more than a century. That change will be showcased in Newton as the local chapter introduces a new way to donate.
At the Newton Hy-Vee, the traditional Red Kettle will still be positioned inside the main entrance. However, customers will have the chance to give using a “cashless kettle.” Hy-Vee store director Rick Morr and Salvation Army board chair Joe DeHart teamed up to give people who don’t carry cash a chance to donate.
The cashier will be able to scan something while the customer checks out to allow them to donate. Each individual will be able to declare the amount they wish to give.
“They’ll give you a wooden token and you’ll be able to put that in the kettle to show that you still support the Salvation Army. It will just be taken out of your debit card and added to your transaction at Hy-Vee. At the end of the season, they’re going to cut us a check,” Cleaveland said.
The success of the campaign not only depends on the people who donate but also on the people who volunteer their time to ring the bell. With more than 2,000 hours of bell ringing to fill, Cleaveland encourages individuals and organizations to consider signing up to help.
This year, signing up for bell ringing can be done online. Simply visit registertoring.com and enter Newton’s 50208 zip code.
“They can sign up super easy on there,” Cleaveland said. “It takes like five minutes. You put your information in there and you get an account and pick any location and sign up.”
Bell ringing is usually done in two-hour blocks. Time slots are open from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Sunday. Volunteers can sign up as individuals or as part of a group. Several local organizations have already signed up to help including Knights of Columbus, Newton Kiwanis and Rotary Club.
“We are very thankful for Jasper County’s support and we can’t do what we do without them,” Cleaveland said.
Donations can also be dropped off at the Salvation Army at 301 N. Second Ave. E. or sent in the mail. For more information, contact the local office at 641-792-6131.
Contact Pam Pratt at
641-792-3121 ext. 6530