Over $50k raised in Red Kettle Campaign


The Salvation Army has been in Starkville for over 30 years and its Red Kettle Campaign helps needs in the community with the aid of cheerful souls who volunteer as bell-ringers at local stores. (Photo by Ryan Phillips, SDN)

By: 
BRIANA RUCKER
Staff Writer

The Salvation Army has been in Starkville for over 30 years and its Red Kettle Campaign helps needs in the community with the aid of cheerful souls who volunteer as bell-ringers at local stores.

Walker has worked with the Salvation Army for five years as the Service Center Manager, and she’s since discovered that some community members have volunteered annually for 30 years.

The campaign starts Black Friday and goes until Christmas Eve.

“We would not be able to one- have a campaign without volunteers and two- we would not be able to bring in as much money if we were having to hire people to ring the bell,” she said.

People are drawn to bell-ringers who give friendly greetings, are cheerful and engaging.

“I always enjoy people that have never done it before and they do it and how they then see things differently,” Walker said.

She recalled her first year working and she spoke with her husband realizing that neither one of them had ever volunteered to ring the bell before.

“We both were kind of like you’re standing out there and in a sense you’re judging them but you think they probably need to save their money, like don’t put your money in the bucket - are the ones that do that (donate),” she said. “Really it alters your perspective.”

While covering an hour shift one day as a bell-ringer, a man said “It’s better to give than to receive. Be a blessing.”

In the last four years the Red Kettle Campaign of Starkville has raised between $50-56,000.

The campaign results were down a few thousands in 2017 than 2016.

“Every one of those numbers was a record for what’s been able to be raised here in Starkville,” she said.

“We are appreciative of anything that people drop in there and what I tell people is coins add up - you would be surprised,” she said. “We have people that put checks in there and cash, but any little bit helps us meet needs.”

The volunteers make the Red Kettle Campaign possible, but they also make a way to raise money for the Salvation Army’s operating account for needs in the community.

“We wouldn’t be able to meet as many needs if we were having to pay people to stand out there and ring the bell,” Walker said.

Recently Southwire, Starkville Police Department and Sheriff’s Department, and OCH have volunteered as bell-ringers.

In the past United Way of North Central Mississippi, local banks, and the Rotary Club have donated their time to the campaign.

“There are groups that you send out that email saying we need bell-ringers and they’re jumping on that with their dates picked out and they can’t wait for next year,” Walker said. “To me it’s a neat testament of people willing to give an hour of their day at least.”

Jennifer Hankins, Branch Manager of Bank First, has volunteered in Starkville as a bell-ringer for three years since working with Bank First.

In the last year, she’s dedicated her time on two different occasions as a way to give back to the community.

“People are so generous when they make donations, they will scrap in the bottom of their pocketbooks just to get all their change out,” Hankins said.

“It’s just amazing how people just give,” she added.

Walker said the community’s generosity in that regard is an encouragement because bell-ringers stand in the cold weather and the amount that individuals drop in the kettle shows the heart of the city of Starkville.

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