Salvation Army donation kettles return for another season, now accepting digital payments
The calendar might say it’s time for turkey, but the Salvation Army is already on the lookout for some undercover Santas to ring the bell for this holiday season.
Bell ringing season in Eagle County started Friday and continues until Christmas Eve, excluding Thanksgiving Day. These rosy-cheeked ringers bring in approximately $50,000 a year; it’s the second largest fundraiser for the Vail Valley Salvation Army each year. Donations help buy food, toys and clothing and pay rent during the holidays and for months to come.
“We’re so blessed to have such a generous community that is willing to help not only during the Christmas season, but year-round,” said Tsu Wolin-Brown, coordinator of the Salvation Army Vail.
Bell ringers are needed at various stores in the Vail Valley including the City Markets in Vail, Avon and Eagle; Safeway in West Vail; Walmart in Avon; Village Market in Eagle; and Ridley’s Family Markets in Gypsum.
“We have 900 two-hour slots that we need to fill,” explained Jeanne Mosier, bell-ringing coordinator and member of the board. “You can volunteer for as many or as few as you like.”
All the spare change adds up: Bell ringing can bring in as much as $60 an hour per bucket; combined, those buckets contributed nearly $50,000 last year (the goal for this year is $55,000). However, paper currency and even checks are accepted.
New this year, the Salvation Army is also accepting digital donations. You can tap to pay with your iPhone or Gmail – a prompt will ask you how much you’d like to donate.
“This is a huge breakthrough for the Salvation Army, as some people don’t carry cash anymore,” Wolin-Brown said. “It’s a cool thing — we’ve never been able to accept credit cards at the kettles before.”
Volunteers can sign up as individuals or as part of a group. Kids are encouraged to sign up as long as there is a parent or guardian to chaperone. Dogs, musical instruments and other elements that make the time ringing fun are also welcome.
“We’re most visible at Christmas, but most people don’t know about the day-to-day work that we do in the community,” Wolin-Brown said. “Most people don’t realize how varied our programs are unless they’re a client or a community volunteer.”
The local Salvation Army will have helped some 6,000 families with food, rent and emergency services by the end of 2019. It spent approximately $200,000 this year providing emergency assistance to those in need. More than 500 households visit the pantry for food and diapers each month; Salvation Army also supports seasonal workers when they do not have enough work hours to support themselves, providing help with utilities, rent and food.
Watching YouTube videos of cats playing piano is fun and all, but at some point during the frigid winters, we all need to leave our houses.