Red Kettle fundraiser key for Salvation Army

Photo by Jeff Baughan Sandra Walker, also known as “Singing Sandy” as she sings while ringing bells for the Salvation Army Christmas kettles, rings in front of the Vienna Foodland. Walker said she sings hymns at the kettles before Thanksgiving and afterwards sings traditional Christmas carols and hymns.

PARKERSBURG — Christmas music has been playing in stores for nearly a month. All genres of Christmas music play to begin the season of giving. It’s usually one simple instrument, a bell, rang by someone who may not know a low C from a high G, an A flat or an F sharp, but rings it because it’s Christmas time and the Salvation Army red kettles are out.

“There were 15 kettles out at the start of last week and the number moved up to 23 after Black Friday,” Major Matt Riley of the Parkersburg Salvation Army said.

That number is down one from last year according to Riley, who said the one less came when the southside Kmart closed.

“It’s the biggest fundraiser of the season,” he said. “The money is for every part of the Christmas season but we stretch it for however long we can for whatever needs there are.

“It keeps the shelter going, for the feeding program,” he added. “We’ve gone from six people from being in the shelter when we got here to more than 40 at the present time.”

Riley said 100 people were interviewed for 23 spots on the kettle campaign with 39 on standby to fill in vacated spots.

“We pay $10 an hour for the bell ringers but we keep a lot of people on standby because the turnover is real high. In fact, we’re still taking applications for the spots.

“Our biggest need is the volunteer,” he said. “Whether it be individuals, families, youth groups, churches, civic groups; any or all can volunteer. They just need to call the office at 304-485-4529 and ask for Shirley Grogg.”

The volunteers allow the Salvation Army to spend the money normally paid to the bell ringers to go to other services.

Bells are ringing from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday-Saturday. Riley said $170,000 and some change was raised last year and the goal is set for $175,000 this year. The official launch of the kettle campaign was Friday at Sears at the Grand Central Mall. The campaign will close down Dec. 23.

The campaign goal for the Marietta Red Kettle campaign is $75,000. The Christmas drive accounts for nearly quarter of the organization’s annual budget with 2016’s campaign totaling $73,400,