Needed this holiday season: Your spare changeFrom now until Christmas, bell ringing volunteers for the Salvation Army will be out in force at Dick’s Fresh Market, Family Fresh Market and ShopKo in River Falls, and at Holiday and Nilseen Foods in Ellsworth.
By: Phil Pfuehler, River Falls Journal
From now until Christmas, bell ringing volunteers for the Salvation Army will be out in force at Dick’s Fresh Market, Family Fresh Market and ShopKo in River Falls, and at Holiday and Nilseen Foods in Ellsworth.
Each year Salvation Army organizer Ed Paulson can always rely on an army of energized volunteers from River Falls to Ellsworth numbering between 300 and 400 -- probably a fourth of whom are high school-age students, many coming from church confirmation classes and Scouts.
“We welcome help from a variety of organizations,” said Paulson, 70, who has managed Salvation Army fundraising in River Falls and Pierce County for more than two decades.
The Thanksgiving-to-Christmas Red Kettle campaign is the Salvation Army’s main revenue source.
About 85% of money raised in the River Falls area is used here.
Some, however, goes for disaster aid nationwide, such as the Hurricane Sandy relief efforts along the East Coast, or, worldwide, such as for Haiti earthquake victims or Japanese tsunami victims after the nuclear power leaks.
Paulson said local Salvation Army money goes to support low-income families and individuals who need help paying for rent and utilities; groceries; clothing; emergency medical, prescription and transportation bills; or who may need homeless services.
Clients are referred to the Salvation Army from Turningpoint domestic abuse shelter; Our Neighbor Place (serving the homeless); Assistance & Resource Center (ARC); churches; law enforcement; and county human services.
Other clients are walk-ins. This is made easier since the Salvation Army now has a River Falls downtown office at Our Neighbors Place, 136 N. Riverwalk.
“These people have to show a need, showing their income versus expenses, and we also go by poverty guidelines when deciding how much to assist with,” Paulson said.
Salvation Army bell ringers often operate in pairs. Parents often bring their kids to make it a family outing. High school-age teens also work together.
Volunteers usually work two-hour shifts. The idea is get noticed by as many winter holiday shoppers as possible.
Bell ringing started before Thanksgiving at the supermarkets in hopes of tapping into the grocery shopping frenzy before that holiday feast.
Bell ringing will start Black Friday at ShopKo for what’s expected to be a busy shopping day there.
Paulson said 2012 has the potential to be a strong fundraiser because of the early start before Thanksgiving and also because there are five weekends -- instead of the usual four -- from Thanksgiving until Christmas.
For the rest of this story, please see the Nov. 22 print edition of the River Falls Journal.