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Salvation Army of Mitchell pursuing Christmas fundraising goal

Holiday campaign runs through January, Angel Tree giveaway set for Saturday

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Linda Jones rings the bell while volunteering at the donation bucket for the Salvation Army on Thursday morning at County Fair Food Store in Mitchell. (Matt Gade / Republic)
Matt Gade
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Christmas marks the season of giving, gifts and holiday cheer.

And, of course, it’s the season of the Salvation Army of Mitchell bell ringers.

Those bell ringers are currently out and about in the community, ringing their bells at various storefronts and encouraging patrons to throw a little something into their collection pots to go towards the annual Christmas campaign fundraising goal.

“It’s going all right,” Bill Middendorp, co-captain of the Salvation Army of Mitchell, said of the 2021 effort. “We’re a little behind last year, and we’ve had fewer people out and that makes all the difference in the world.”

The Christmas bell ringing campaign is the main fundraiser for the local chapter of the Salvation Army. As of Thursday afternoon, Middendorp said they were about $69,658 short of their goal of $146,000, the total they brought in last year and the stated goal for this year’s busy season. That puts them about 52% of where they want to be.

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That’s not too far off from last year’s pace, and there is still plenty of time for people to get into the giving mood. The holiday fundraising window runs through the end of January, and the bell ringers aren’t the only way to donate to the Salvation Army. Traditional donations such as checks can be mailed to the organization, and donations can be given online at their website.

And those donations are always needed and appreciated, Middendorp said. With the stresses the COVID-19 pandemic put on the world in 2020 and 2021, the demand for services at the Salvation Army continues to be high. After shifting their meal operation to delivery-only amidst the pandemic, the organization has reopened their dining room, where people are again gathering to share the holiday spirit.

“We never shut down. We actually got busier,” Middendorp said. “We started delivering food to people that were quarantined, and now our dining room is back open and we’re serving between 60 to 100 people every day.”

Middendorp said over the past year, the Salvation Army of Mitchell assisted 572 families consisting of over 2,100 individuals. Other statistics included:

  • 35 households were helped with their utility bill to prevent shut off.
  • 30 households were assisted in paying their rent to avoid eviction and homelessness.
  • 30 individuals were assisted in lodging in emergency situations.
  • The food pantry supplied food for 431 households.
  • The Compassion Kitchen served 12,191 meals.

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Linda Jones rings the bell while volunteering at the donation bucket for the Salvation Army on Thursday morning at inside the entrance to County Fair Food Store in Mitchell. (Matt Gade / Republic)
Matt Gade

Other programs and ministries include emergency disaster services, women's ministries, youth programs, back to school supplies and back packs, winter clothing and Coats for Kids, gifts delivered to nursing homes at Easter and Christmas, Christmas food boxes and the Angel Tree Program.

The most visible element of Salvation Army fundraising are the bell ringers, who post themselves at retail outlets around the community, swing and ring their bells and offer shoppers holiday greetings as they come and go from their Christmas shopping. The volunteers are a long-running tradition around the holidays in towns and cities across the county, and having enough people to fill the shifts can be difficult.

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On Thursday, as the community dug out from a slushy, icy winter storm that rolled through the area Wednesday night, Middendorp said there were two locations without a bell ringer that would usually be staffed by a Salvation Army volunteer.

“It kind of depends on the day. Today, I have two stores empty all day and yesterday we had one store empty and two empty half the day,” Middendorp said.

The organization is always happy to welcome new bell ringers to the campaign, and encouraged anyone interested in taking part to contact the Salvation Army of Mitchell and inquire about possibly taking a shift. Volunteers can work as much or as little as they choose, but every little bit helps.

Salvation Army of Mitchell bell ringers can be found at Coborn's, Walgreens, Runnings, Walmart, County Fair and Cabela’s.

With the bell ringing effort in the midst of their busiest time of the year and the dining room at the Salvation Army again up and running, the local branch of the organization is working at full pace. But they’re not done yet. The group’s annual Angel Tree giveaway will again take place this Saturday at the group’s headquarters on Sanborn Boulevard. Christmas gifts for children can be picked up from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

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Linda Jones rings the bell while volunteering at the donation bucket for the Salvation Army on Thursday morning as people come and go from County Fair Food Store in Mitchell. (Matt Gade / Republic)
Matt Gade

That same morning, firefighters with the Mitchell Fire Department will be on Main Street collecting donations for the Salvation Army. It's a great chance for community members to greet their local emergency responders and donate a little something to a good cause at the same time, Middendorp said.

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Middendorp said he and the organization were thankful for everything members of the community and the volunteers have done so far this year. The efforts of those volunteers make the services provided by the Salvation Army possible, and their fundraising work is the largest boost of the year to the organization’s bottom line.

Those volunteers are the “army” in “Salvation Army,” and they make it possible to fight the good fight.

“(Thank you to) the donors and the volunteers who are helping out this year. It takes an army of volunteers to serve our community,” Middendorp said.

Those interested in volunteering can visit www.registertoring.com or call 605-999-4574. Donations can also be given at mitchellredkettle.org .

Related Topics: NONPROFITS
Erik Kaufman joined the Mitchell Republic in July of 2019 as an education and features reporter. He grew up in Freeman, S.D., graduating from Freeman High School. He graduated from the University of South Dakota in 1999 with a major in English and a minor in computer science. He can be reached at ekaufman@mitchellrepublic.com.
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