The Edmond Sun

December 16, 2013

Bell ringers aid Salvation Army

Nonprofit seeks to raise $400,000

James Coburn
The Edmond Sun

EDMOND — On his second day as a Salvation Army bell ringer, John Lindley didn’t mind standing outside of Walmart for four hours Tuesday morning.

His legs grew weary, but not his heart. A ringing bell reminds passersby there are basic human needs to be met by charity in the community. Lindley volunteered when learning the Salvation Army needs volunteers for its Red Kettle Campaign.

“It’s harder than you think. Time goes slow, but it’s fun,” Lindley said.

The mission statement of the Salvation Army is “meeting human needs without discrimination.” Serving 121 countries, the Salvation Army originated in 1865 and has served the Oklahoma City area since 1890. Central Oklahoma command of the Salvation Army includes the counties of Oklahoma, Canadian and Cleveland.

Ten-year-old Abby Collier repeated a donation to the Salvation Army while entering the store with her mother. Abby wanted to help people, she said.

All Edmond donations for the Kettle Campaign are earmarked for central Oklahoma, said Jeanean South, director of development. Lindley estimated that about 15-20 percent of passersby were putting money in the red kettle.

“Everything helps,” Lindley said. “I see some people putting money in but I don’t necessarily know how much. I did see a guy put a $10 bill in Saturday.”

The Salvation Army serves more than 300,000 meals annually in Central Oklahoma and fulfilled more than 36,000 grocery orders. Five senior centers and one Adult Rehabilitation Center in the area are provided by the Salvation Army.

“We provide almost 30,000 nights of shelter with our men’s, women’s and family shelters,” South said.

A Boys and Girls Club provides education for children who are at-risk. The Salvation Army’s disaster aide response provided aide to 140,000 people last year.

In the 18th day of the campaign, Salvation Army had raised a total of $177,564 for an average of $9,864 per day earnings for Oklahoma County, South said.

“I think it says a lot,” Lindley said. “I think people in Edmond are pretty generous.”

“Thank you, sir,” Lindley said as a man slipped money into the kettle.

Last year Salvation Army raised $434,000 in Oklahoma County, South said. They hope to raise at least $400,000 this year because of shortened bell ringing time with the Thanksgiving holiday a week later than usual.

National agreements with large stores keep bell ringers from volunteering until the day after Thanksgiving. The current fundraising projection based on daily collection is at a total of $267,000 for the campaign, South said.

“We would be down by $133,000 of a $400,000 goal. Right now we’re down about 32 percent,” South said.

A winter storm prevented the Salvation Army from earning much money on the weekend following Thanksgiving. A skeleton crew braved winter’s chill but shopping was sparse, she said.

“We still have a lot of availability for people to sign up,” South said.

Salvation Army bell ringers are accepting donations at 20 locations in Edmond. Locations with kettles include each of the Walmarts, Homeland, Walgreens and Hobby Lobby stores. Bell ringers are at Sam’s Club and the Mardel Christian Bookstore.

“I just love that Walmart allows you to be here,” Toni Spence, said. “I don’t think the value can be estimated. I’m sure there’s a ripple effect that goes on and on.”

TO SIGN UP to be a Salvation Army bell ringer, email okckettle@gmail.com. Online Red Kettle donations are accepted at okckettle.org. For more information go to http://www.onlineredkettle.org/centraloklahoma.