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Salvation Army looking for bell ringers

November 26, 1996

By CLYDE FORD

Staff Writer

The Salvation Army is looking for a few good men and women to help ring bells during the agency's annual holiday fund drive.

The Salvation Army officially kicked off its fund drive Monday, although bell ringers were out Friday with the kettles, said spokesman Harry Barger.

This year's goal is to raise $54,950 through the kettles and another $125,500 through a mail appeal, Barger said.

Most of the funds raised this time of year help pay for food baskets for needy families and to provide toys for children from needy families, said Salvation Army Maj. Samuel VanDenburg.

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The Salvation Army also has a program that provides teddy bears to children and sponsors Angel Trees at area stores.

The branches of Angel Trees provide descriptions of children, such as "Boy, 12," or "Girl, 8," along with a gift each child would like for Christmas, Barger said.

People can take a card from the tree, purchase the gift listed on the card for the child and return the card and gift to the store. The Salvation Army will deliver the present to the child, Barger said.

The Salvation Army's fund drive got a boost from the Hagerstown Police Department Monday when Chief Dale Jones presented the agency with a check for $1,000 to buy turkeys for holiday food baskets.

The Salvation Army will serve about 1,400 people this holiday, VanDenburg said.

The Salvation Army's annual kettle drive is probably the agency's most visible fund-raising effort, but VanDenburg and Barger said it's just part of what the Salvation Army does throughout the year.

The kettle drive runs until 5 p.m. Christmas Eve, although gifts will be distributed on Dec. 20, Barger said.

The Salvation Army relies on volunteers to ring bells at the kettles, to remind people of the need to give and to help share the holiday spirit, Barger said.

Anyone age 16 and older can be a volunteer bell ringer, Barger said. Younger children can do the job if an adult is on hand to supervise, he said.

When the Salvation Army cannot find enough volunteers, people are paid to work part-time as bell ringers, Barger said. Those hired are needy people who are paid minimum wage, he said.

Some people disagree with the Salvation Army's policy of paying bell ringers, but at times it is the only way to staff all of the kettles, he said.

Kettles are outside Sam's Club, Wal-Mart, Kmart, Valley Mall, Big Lots, PharmHouse, Ames, McCrory's, the Long Meadow Shopping Center, and Sears.

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