Through Christmas Eve, bells will be ringing in Tomah from afternoon to evening every Thursday, Friday and Saturday.
The bells, part of the Salvation Army Red Kettle Christmas campaign, will be rung at Walmart and Festival Foods.
Pastor Steve Dahl of Gloria Dei Lutheran Chruch said the campaign, which the church coordinates, is all about generosity and community support to those in need.
“It’s not just for those faraway, but those in Monroe County,” he said. “It supports the food pantries and a lot of the family support programs ... that help those really struggling this time of year.”
Eighty-eight percent of every dollar donated stays in the county, Dahl said. He said the funds allow the Salvation Army to supply food, clothing and toys to over six million people during the holiday season and to assist over 34 million Americans recover from personal disasters.
Red Kettle is the best way to help others, Dahl said.
“It is one of the easiest ways to really support so many of our neighbors in need,” he said. “Many of (them) are people we don’t openly see, but they are there, they are suffering to pay the bills, may have experienced a loss, and you’re there to help them … you can be a helping hand for them.”
Dahl said the Salvation Army is a reliable organization with most of the donations remaining in the communities where they serve.
“The Salvation Army has a great account record of being accountable for what they do,” he said. “The majority of money is for our local needs. The Salvation Army very efficiently parcels that money out to various agencies in Tomah, and a few of which are Neighbor for Neighbor, Families First, Coulee Cap and a number of the senior support services. These are agencies that work in the background to help those that are really having a hard time.”
One challenge this year is lack of volunteers, Dahl said. About 80 shifts need to be filled.
“We have not had the sign up we’ve had in the past,” he said. “The shifts are only an hour in length, and it’s a great opportunity to bring a friend and ring together. You can split the shift up if you like, but by bringing a friend, ringing time can be the most enjoyable time to meet the community and be a neighbor to the needy in our county.”
The time spent ringing is well spent, Dahl said.
“Red Kettle is a big blessing to the community,” he said. “(I) urge people that are very community-minded that they can trust the kettle and the people administering these funds because they are truly being well-used.”