Bell-ringing duo

Westby residents Karen Ekern (left) and Alli Weninger, 14, ring bells for The Salvation Army at the Viroqua Walmart, Sunday afternoon. Ekern is Weninger's confirmation mentor and ringing bells for The Salvation Army is one of their special projects they are doing together. Weninger is also Ekern's godchild and neighbor.

The Salvation Army is still in need of volunteers to help with Vernon County’s annual bell-ringing campaign, which launched Nov. 18.

As of Friday, Dec. 1, the campaign had raised $2,500; the goal is $10,000. Last year, The Salvation Army Red Kettle Drive raised $15,742.

“The number of ringers is down,” said Linda Gilardi, one of the volunteers who schedules bell-ringers. “I appreciate all the volunteers I do get.”

Bell-ringing takes place at Village Market, Nelson Agri-Center and Walmart, all in Viroqua. Bells will be rung daily at all three locations through Dec. 24 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Volunteers can take one- to two-hour time slots.

Gilardi said several organizations, including the Wild West Days court, Believer’s Fellowship Church, St. Mary’s Church in Viroqua, Viroqua United Methodist Church and Viroqua Area Rotary Club, have committed to fill slots for an entire day.

“Good Shepherd Lutheran Church rings at Village Market weekends,” she said.

More organizations are welcome to coordinate a day of bell-ringing.

Gilardi said the campaign recently received a $120 donation from the Springville Super Stars 4-H Club. The money was raised at a bake sale hosted by the club.

“Anyone who wants to hold a fundraiser or bake sale (to benefit The Salvation Army) is welcome,” she said. “When they send the donation directly to me it stays in Vernon County.”

The money collected during the Red Kettle Drive helps with such things as fire victims, prescriptions, clothing or gas for job interviews, utility bills, food pantries, Toys for Tots and Stuff the Bus.

Gilardi said one day she was ringing the bells and a 6-year-old boy asked where the money goes. She told the boy and his mother all of the ways the money helps people in Vernon County.

“He just smiled,” she said. “His mother said she didn’t realize all the different ways The Salvation Army helps.”

A few tabletop kettles are available if a business would like one. Kickapoo KWKSTOP and Kickapoo Corners in Readstown, Royal Bank in Viroqua and Nordic Lanes in Westby have kettles.

Donations can be mailed to Linda Gilardi, 205 S. Lincoln Ave., Viroqua, WI 54665.

Volunteers interested in scheduling a time slot at Village Market may contact Karen Dahl at To set up a time to volunteer at Walmart and Nelson Agri-Center or to request a tabletop kettle for a business, contact Gilardi at 637-2216 or

Volunteers at Village Market ring bells indoors, and those at Walmart and Nelson Agri-Center are outdoors.

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Vernon County Broadcaster editor

Angie Cina is editor of the Vernon County Broadcaster. Contact her at 608-637-5616.

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