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Salvation Army rings in the holidays

Melissa Topey • Dec 9, 2013 at 5:40 PM

When the holidays come around, people want to help others.

I saw this during my “On the Job” Wednesday as I stood at the front entrance to Walmart on East Harbor Road in Port Clinton, ringing the bell for the Salvation Army Red Kettle campaign. The temperature was about 55 degrees, a decent day for December. In my hour as a bell ringer, I had 23 people drop money into the kettle.

One of them was Elora Hubner, 8, of Put-in-Bay, who slid some money into the kettle as a smile spread across her face. Her mother, Kim, stood watch behind her.

“Thank you, honey,” I said.

“As we were walking up, my mom told me to,” Elora said.

“Every year we do it” Kim said.

It’s a great way to teach children about giving back, and it was heartwarming to see everyone give their hard-earned money to help others who may have fallen on hard times.

“Merry Christmas,” I said to each person. “Thank you for helping the Salvation Army help others”

I was feeling pretty good about my skill in drawing people over to donate. The warm weather might have helped, too, because people weren’t darting from their cars and rushing into the store to get out of the cold.

The volunteers often don multiple layers of clothes as they work two- to four-hour shifts, braving the freezing temperatures. The Port Clinton Salvation Army, however, has a booth with a heater, so even in chilly temperatures the bell-ringers can enjoy some warmth.

The volunteers all show up — they know The Salvation Army’s mission is important at this time of year.

“You picked a good day,” Ottawa County Deputy Phil DeLuca said. “I’m here on Friday, and it’s going to be freezing”

Deluca has been ringing the The Salvation Army bell for five years. He’s one of several deputies who braved frigid temps to man the kettle on Friday. The uniform draws people to drop money in the kettle, he said. In years past, the kettles manned by deputies became so full, the Salvation Army had to collect the money before the shift ended.

“If me in uniform draws people, so be it” Deluca said. “It’s a great cause”

The Red Kettle campaign is The Salvation Army’s biggest fundraiser. It generated more than $148.7 million last year nationwide, serving the country’s poor by providing food, shelter and more than 1 million toys to children during the holidays.

During my one-hour post, I saw people drop in nickels and dimes, as well as $5 and $1 bills.

It all adds up, especially when you consider there are more than 25,000 Red Kettles at storefronts and street corners throughout the U.S.

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