Salvation Army Asks Area Residents To Open Hearts, Wallets

The Greater Derry Salvation Army is looking for volunteer bell-ringers for its Red Kettle Campaign, which began last week.

Lt. Kathryn Mayes, director of the local branch, said in a phone interview Friday that new ringers or teams of ringers are needed to meet the agency’s goal of $200,000.

“Technically, we need to fill 44 slots a day,” Mayes said., “That’s 22 spots on each of two shifts.”

Bell-ringers solicit donations outside the following: Market Basket in Londonderry, Salem and Plaistow; Salem at McKinnon’s Market; the state Liquor Stores in Salem and Londonderry; The Rockingham Mall outside J.C. Penney’s and Macy’s; K-Mart; Shaw’s in Salem and Londonderry; and Derry and Salem Walmarts.

The Red Kettle Campaign is one of the oldest and most-beloved charitable endeavors in the country. According to a press release from the organization, a Salvation Army captain in San Francisco, Joseph McFee, created the tradition in 1891. He had resolved to provide a Christmas dinner for the area’s poor, but did not know how to fund it. “As he went about his daily tasks, the question stayed in his mind,” according to the press release. He remembered his days as a sailor in Liverpool, England. In an area called Stage Landing, where the boats came in, he saw a large pot into which charitable donations were thrown by passersby.” He placed a similar pot at the foot of San Francisco’s Market Street, and the Red Kettle was born.

“It takes 44 people a day to fill every spot,” Mayes said. She started out strong last year, but by the end of the season, she only had 15 people.

“But we have a good group so far,” Mayes added.

People can register as individuals or groups, and she expects some “repeat ringers,” including the annual contingent from the Derry School District.

Her goal of $200,000 is higher than last year’s $175,000, she said and for good reason: the needs are up. “We are not reaching the needs in a complete sense,” Mayes said.

For example, the organization’s food pantry, begun two years ago, has seen a doubling in clients, Mayes said.

“We can’t do more without more resources,” Mayes said.

Those interested in volunteering should call her as soon as possible at 434-7790. A limited number of paid bell-ringing positions are also available.

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