Bell ringers bring holiday joy to Berthoud
By Katie Harris
Since 1891 the Salvation Armys red-kettle program has helped provide for the hungry during the holidays. Over the past century, the kettles have multiplied, as the organization has reached out to more and more individuals in need during the Christmas season.
Today numerous kettles can be found at storefronts throughout the Loveland/Berthoud extension area, their presence announced by the cheerful jingling of little bells. A donation to a kettle might even earn you a miniature candy cane from a friendly volunteer.
Of the money raised in the kettles, 90 percent stays in the local community, providing food, rent assistance, clothing, prescriptions and transportation assistance at the Salvation Armys 840 N. Lincoln Ave. location in Loveland. The other 10 percent goes to disaster-relief efforts.
According to Loveland Service Center Coordinator Olga Duvall, there are no income restrictions to apply for assistance, the only requirement is a Loveland or Berthoud address. Salvation Army case workers determine benefits on a case-by-case basis when people arrive at the Loveland location seeking help.
Duvall said the largest portion of the kettle money goes to rent assistance, to help families facing homelessness. Between January and October this year the Loveland extension assisted 103 families by paying out over $30,000 in rent assistance to keep them in their homes.
The local extension of the Salvation Army sets up kettle locations at Walmart, Sams Club, King Soopers, Kmart, Hobby Lobby, Safeway and Macys in Loveland; and at Hays Market in Berthoud.
The red-kettle location, which takes place from Nov. 18 through Christmas Eve, is completely volunteer-based and, according to Duvall, there can never be too many volunteers.
Wed like to raise more this year, which would mean more services that we could provide for those in need in the Loveland and Berthoud communities, she said. To do that we need to fill more volunteer hours.
Out of 2400 hours available, over 1500 still needed to be filled as of the second week in December.
We have a lot of repeat volunteers, year after year, said Duvall. Usually when people try ringing bells they really like it and want to make it a holiday tradition.
Duvall said, while the organization is greatly appreciative of their veteran volunteers, they hope to see some new faces come out this year.
We would like to reach more potential volunteers and make sure people in the community know about this holiday volunteering opportunity, she said. This is a neat opportunity for families, children, teenagers, everybody.
Last year the total number of volunteers totaled around 1100, and the program raised $80,000. Duvall said, based on current sign-ups, she expects that number to be about the same this year if nothing changes.
We will need people to sign up all the way through Dec. 24, she said. Volunteers can choose their own day, time, and location thats most convenient to their schedule. Most sign up for two-hour shifts, but even half an hour is appreciated.
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