They're ringing their hearts out, but it's still not enough.
Mark Larrick, captain of the local corps of the Salvation Army, said kettle donations are down this time of year compared to 2006.
"I think part of it is the economic situation," Larrick said. "I think that plays a role."
So far this year, bell ringers have collected about $20,000 from five kettle donation sites in the city and Perkins Township. Locations include both entrances to Wal-Mart, Sam's Club, Kroger and inside Sandusky Mall. In previous years, the organization has collected $60,000 to $65,000.
Larrick also attributes the decrease in donations to fewer volunteers. The Salvation Army would need up to 50 bell ringers to meet its goals. This year, the organization hired 15 bell ringers and has about a dozen volunteers helping out with a few hours.
This is Joe Robinson's first year ringing the infamous holiday bell for the Salvation Army. On Friday afternoon, he stood just inside the main entrance to Kroger.
"It's been pretty good for me, but some places are slow," Robinson said.
Through conversations with other bell ringers, Robinson said he has learned the red kettle donation site inside the mall has been slow.
"Without the money, it makes it increasingly difficult to do the programs we offer throughout the year," Larrick said.
Bell ringers will continue to set up kettle donation sites until Christmas Eve.
"The majority of our local programs rely directly on community support," Larrick said. "This time of year is really crucial."
To support the Salvation Army, call 419-626-3862.