By now you’ve certainly noticed representatives from the Salvation Army set up around town, even if your eyes missed them, your ears would not.
Bells are ringing at the entrances of your neighborhood grocery store and pharmacy. The Salvation Army’s Red Kettle campaign is underway at 22 locations throughout Abilene. Where do all those coins and bills end up after the holiday fundraiser is complete?
“We help with rent, clothing, we help with food, we do a lot of things,” said Shelley Futrelle, the Public Relations and Community Development Director for the Salvation Army in Abilene. “The money that comes in from the wonderful people of Abilene really provides those services that we can do for the public.”
Futrelle said most people don’t realize that the donations collected this month actually fund the program year-round.
The goal this year is $125,000, that money keeps the feeding program, drug rehabilitation center and kids camps going. Last year the Red Kettle campaign only raised $84,000.
“That was not enough to get through the year and provide what we provide,” Futrelle said. “We kept providing it but lots of other things got pinchy.”
The Salvation Army in Abilene serves Taylor county and the seven surrounding counties. People like Eugene Braddy depend on the local resource for food and shelter. Braddy is homeless, he works every year as a bell ringer. His earnings help him prepare for the coming year but he also just enjoys being out, wishing others a Merry Christmas.
Futrelle said there are some really good bell ringers out there this season.
“They’re very happy, they will talk to people, you know they’ll smile,” Futrelle said. “We always tell them, you know that may be the only smile that person gets for the day or for the week.”
Futrelle said the bell ringers stay positive despite working long hours in cold weather.
“People think; what could be hard about ringing a bell?” Futrelle said. “When you do it for 10 hours, eight hours or even three hours, it’s long hours, it feels like forever sometimes.”
She’s especially grateful for volunteers who give their time and effort with no expectations of pay.
David Perkins is one a returning volunteer. He works full time at Hendrick Home for Children but he devotes the evenings to volunteering for the campaign.
“Being from Hendrick Home for Children I know what people in our community do for us and I wanted to help somebody else and set an example for our kids at Hendrick Home about service,” Perkins said. “It’s fun, there’s something about doing for somebody else that is a joy it does something for you.”