FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – This time of year it’s hard to walk into a shopping mall or grocery store without seeing one of the Salvation Army’s iconic red kettles and the volunteer bell ringers. The Red Kettle Campaign is one of the Salvation Army’s most well-known and certainly one of the most visible during November and December.
Sammi Cole has been a volunteer bell ringer for the past three or four years. She and her 7-year-old daughter, Holley, were set up inside Glenbrook Square Mall last weekend. In matching Christmas shirts and festive headbands, the two took turns ringing the bell and gathering donations from generous shoppers.
“We have more time than money to give to the cause so we’re helping the best way we can,” Sammi Cole said. “The reason we ring the bell is because you get more money when somebody is attending the bell than when the kettle is just sitting there by itself.”
Cole has been a volunteer with the Salvation Army for many years and has helped raise money for just about every one of its program. The organization is close to Cole and her family’s hearts. Their friend was the very first recipient of the Charlotte Ministries program, which provides care packages and financial assistance for families with a child in an Allen County neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). Sammi and Holley have also both been in the Queen of Charities Pageant, a charity-based event founded by The Salvation Army.
The money raised during the Red Kettle Campaign not only supports the Salvation Army’s Christmas Assistance program, but helps thousands of families in need with food, rental assistance, and more.
“It really just helps everybody,” Cole said. “The need isn’t just at Christmas time, the need is all year long but most people don’t see the Salvation Army out except at the holiday season or when we do the events.”
Year after year, Sammi Cole is happy to pick up a bell, stand by a kettle, and hopefully bring a local family some holiday cheer.
“It’s a good feeling knowing we’re helping people who otherwise may not be getting even just a coat and shoes and clothes for Christmas. There’s a lot of people in our community who can’t even do that, so it at least gets them the essentials and a toy so their Christmas isn’t just, like, another day.”
The Salvation Army is always looking for volunteer bell ringers. You can learn how to sign up for a shift by clicking here.