The Salvation Army of La Crosse’s annual Red Kettle campaign is inching closer to a million dollars, and it’s trolling for volunteers to start ringing the bells on the official kick-off day of Nov. 11.

On the heels of a record-setting collection of more than $925,000 last season, the corps has set a goal of $949,500 instead of targeting $1 million like it did last year.

The campaign raises roughly one-third of The Salvation Army’s annual budget, funding various daily, monthly and seasonal programs in La Crosse County.

“We need to make our goal to continue running our day-to-day operations,” said Nick Ragner, the corps’ public relations coordinator.

“Even though we had a great 2016, we failed to meet our goal,” Ragner said. “While we still offered everything we did before the campaign, it came with a few challenges.”

The corps relies heavily on volunteers to fill more than 3,400 bell-ringing shifts at more than 20 sites in La Crosse, Onalaska and Holmen. The two-hour shifts take place between 10 a.m. and 8 p.m. Limited bell-ringing opportunities also are available in West Salem and Bangor, Ragner said.

“Without bell ringers, sites will likely receive little to no donations,” he said. “Just a few hours of spreading Christmas cheer can help us feed a family, or offer our shelter services to someone that has nowhere else to go.”

Bell ringing will continue through Dec. 23, but the overall campaign technically runs from Nov. 4 through Jan. 31.

Volunteers can sign up for bell-ringing shifts by going to The Salvation Army’s web site or by contacting volunteer coordinator Alex Riley at 608-782-6126, ext. 226, or email at alex_riley@usc.salvationarmy.org.

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Mike Tighe is the Tribune newsroom's senior citizen. That said, he don't get no respect from the cub reporters as he goes about his duly-appointed rounds on the health, religion and whatever-else-lands-in-his-inbox beats. Call him at 608-791-8446.

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