Mitchell bell-ringers begin quest to hit goal of $95,000For nearly a decade, Lou Mayer has spent part of his holiday season manning a post at various locations around Mitchell. Armed with only a bell, Mayer greets departing shoppers, whether they leave a donation in the red Salvation Army bucket or not.
By: Austin Kaus, The Daily Republic
For nearly a decade, Lou Mayer has spent part of his holiday season manning a post at various locations around Mitchell.
Armed with only a bell, Mayer greets departing shoppers, whether they leave a donation in the red Salvation Army bucket or not.
“I like to help people where I can,” said the 71-year-old Mitchell resident.
For some, Salvation Army bellringers are as synonymous with the Christmas season as Santa Claus, but Salvation Army Maj. Linda Jones said she’s hoping to find more volunteers to help with the organization’s goal of raising $95,000 during the holiday season.
She hopes a good part of that goal comes from bell-ringers at seven locations across Mitchell.
Because four of her volunteers were unable to participate due to various health reasons, Jones said Mayer was one of only six bellringers available on Wednesday.
However, she’s confident more volunteers will come forward as the holiday season progresses.
“Once the word gets out in the community, the clubs and other people pitch in when they know I’m in desperate need,” Jones said. “I am in need right now.”
The number of area residents looking for assistance from the Salvation Army has more than doubled from last year, Jones said. In 2007, some 300 people were receiving food, clothing and other assistance from the organization. This year, the number has jumped to 700.
Community food donations have helped, Jones said, but other factors are providing challenges to the organization. Thrift store purchases and donations are down, which means Jones has had to cut some employees’ hours.
Ideally, Jones would have a rotation of three to four people each day, ringing bells from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.
A change in policy at Cabela’s isn’t making the fundraising drive any easier. Jones said management told her that the national chain of stores issued a national policy change this year requiring bell-ringers to stand outside the building.
“I don’t have anything against that, (but) it was a good spot,” Jones said. “It just hurts us (when we’re) raising money.”