VIENNA - Each Christmas holiday season, from early November to Dec. 24, the sound of bells ringing at store entrances and exits is familiar.
This year there are two dozen stores with red kettles and bell ringers collecting for the Salvation Army of Parkersburg Corps to aid its Christmas programs for those in need, said Lt. Mechelle Henry an officer with the local organization.
The goal is to raise $165,000, said Henry. The funds collected during the drive will fund Christmas for about 700 families with about 4,000 children in the local Salvation Army's coverage region. The Parkersburg Corps aids residents in Wood, Calhoun, Jackson, Ritchie, Wirt and Pleasants counties. While every penny dropped in the kettles helps, the bulk of the money collected is from mail donations during the Christmas season.
Donations purchase a meal basket for each family and holiday gifts for children under the age of 12 whose cards were not taken from the Angel Trees. Angel Trees are in stores and restaurants around the community and allow residents who have a little extra to help a child and provide for their Christmas.
Henry said it is important for individuals, families, organizations and companies to sponsor the kettles.
"We have church groups, families and other organizations that have taken it upon themselves to sponsor kettles and man them, which is a great help," Henry said.
One such organization is the teacher sorority Alpha Delta Kapppa, which had two members spending several hours on Thursday manning a kettle at J.C. Penney at the Grand Central Mall.
"This is something we do as a project where we can get out in the community and do some good," said member Kitty Spencer, of Belpre. "We do other projects, but helping the Salvation Army is something that is important to us."
Fellow member Jean Hopkins, of Parkersburg, said she sees manning the red kettles as a way to help out a number of people.
"In this economy, everybody needs all of the help they can get and give and this is my way of helping," Hopkins said.
Al Wolfe, of Parkersburg, has participated in bell ringing for the Salvation Army for the past four years and said he enjoys donating his spare time.
"I really enjoy it," he said. "I like being involved in the Salvation Army and the work they do, so I plan to help for a long as I can."
Last year the Parkersburg Corps aided more than 1,000 families and more than 4,000 children with a boxed Christmas meal of ham and all of the sides, along with toys and clothes for the kids.
Although the kettle drive is in full swing, the Salvation Army is always looking for volunteers to ring the bells and man the kettles, Henry said.
"We have a lot of civic organizations and church groups and even families giving their time, but we are always looking for more volunteers," she said.
To volunteer, contact Dawn Haught with the organization at 304-485-4529 ext. 203.