Salvation Army sees lack of bell ringers, kettles as holiday season arrives

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EYEWITNESS NEWS (WBRE/WYOU) — A lack of volunteers has changed the way the Salvation Army is ringing their bells for donations this holiday.

The Salvation Army is looking for people in our area to chime in as they’re facing a shortage of volunteers and paid bell ringers to help raise money for those in need.

Bells ringing outside Schiel’s Family Market in Wilkes-Barre is a sound of the season.

“I think you should volunteer and give back, because you never know when it’s going to be your turn, know what I mean, you have to give back,” bell ringer Terrence West

Shoppers donate cash to the Salvation Army’s iconic Red Kettle Campaign. It’s the non-profit’s largest annual fundraiser that supports local community programs.

“Growing up, my parents always told me, if you give, you’ll always receive anything, regardless if you’re looking for it or not, something good will always come your way,” Isaiah Young of Wilkes-Barre said.

But in the Diamond City, there aren’t as many kettle stands in front of local businesses as there once was. Due to a lack of volunteers, the Salvation Army is down from its usual count of 29 kettles to just 9.

“We have less then half of where we should be for our goal right now. So it’s a significant impact for us, which in turn impacts our community,” Wilkes-Barre Citadel Salvation Army Corps Officer Lt. Ismael Ortiz said.

Major John Wheeler of the East Stroudsburg Salvation Army says the organization began paying bell ringers by the hour this year. In addition to the shortage, he says this also impacts collection totals.

“Out of every dollar we earn, we have to pay part of that back to the worker at the kettle. Our best option to avoid that, is to get people to outright volunteer,” Major Wheeler said.

A simple act that can go a long way.

“Ringing that bell is just the ring to my ear and I just had to donate,” Young said.

Donations can be made in the virtual red kettle, which can be found at pa.salvationarmy.org/wilkes-barre or if you would like to volunteer, visit registertoring.com.

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