PORTSMOUTH — It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas and one of those signature symbols are the Red Kettles and bell ringers from the Salvation Army.
Speaking with Major Dan Simco, Corps Officer at the Portsmouth Salvation Army, said this year there is a need more now than ever. They are having their can food drive right now and said that will help with their food meals, but the Red Kettles are a large fundraiser for the organization.
Luckily, the Salvation Army has been able to start their Red Kettle collections earlier this year, thanks to places like Walmart, the two IGA’s, Food Fair and Rural . The Red Kettle collections are the main fundraiser for the Salvation Army and this extra time will hopefully help where some things cannot be completed as easily as in the past, things like bell ringers that are not as easy to get because some are older folks and then there are usually some school groups that help out and that cannot be done this year either.
Simco said that they start using those funds right away, whether it be for the meal programs or the children’s programs that they are still able to have there like their character building, which is their type of after school thing, where there is a little tutoring. They also use those funds to help pay for their caseworker who is able to schedule appointments with people to access their needs and provide assistance, whether it be clothing vouchers and furniture vouchers at their family store.
Simco said the caseworker also does a lot with helping people with getting their birth certificates. He says that this is a critical piece of information that people need so that they can pursue getting other things like a SS card or photo ID. It is a much-needed service.
“Another ministry service that we provide to our community is the family store. It gives them an affordable place to shop for lightly used items. Plus, the caseworker will be writing those vouchers for the need and it’s a really needed service that we are able to provide,” Simco said.
“Trying to secure our paid ringers and our volunteer ringers, it’s been slower this year, especially with the volunteers. My volunteer calendar for bell ringing is not filling up like it used to. On the flip side of this, the people who usually come for seasonal work as the bell ringing, are the folks that are needing help from us,” Simco said. “I look at it as a way to provide a seasonal job and provide some additional income for November and December, they can buy a little bit extra for their family whether it be Christmas or paying a bill, whatever it looks like for them.”
Simco shared that the bell ringing goal this year is $89,000, it is the majority fundraiser. “On all of our kettle rings, we have two ways people can use their smartphones to make donations where they don’t have to handle cash, don’t have to get near a bell ringer; we have a sticker. plus bigger posters that have QR codes where they can just stand and take a picture of the QR code from a distance and they will be taken to a place where they can make a donation of their choice, it usually takes less than 30 seconds. Also, people can go to our webpage at portsmouth.salvationarmy.org they can make a donation online also.”
When talking about their RescueChristmas this year, Simco says,” It is kind of the whole enchilada, our bell ringers, we want to rescue that, and also our toy shop and we are not sure how that is going to look or if folks will be willing to buy. It is there, where Walmart has been helping for that,” as was told in a previous article.
On the Salvation Army’s Facebook page it says it best with, ‘The sound of bells ringing and kettles clinging signal the official start of the Christmas season. But with more families hurting and facing, and contactless donation options for your safety. So, we’re asking you to amplify the sounds and the sentiment by giving a little more. You can donate in person, give online or volunteer as a bell ringer.’
If interested in being a bell ringer call: (740) 353-2400
To donate to our virtual red kettle visit: https://give.salvationarmy.org/…/swo-portsmouth…/c305593
Reach Kimberly Jenkins (740)353-3101 ext. 1928
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