ROANOKE, Va. (WFXR) — You may not hear many bells ringing this holiday season at your local grocery stores. The Salvation Army says they are struggling to find Red Kettle Bell volunteers.
Unfortunately, it means they’ll have to find other ways to bring in donations. The staff at The Salvation Army in Roanoke says that lately there’s only been about ten volunteers showing up to ring bells. But there are more than 40 locations in Roanoke where they can fundraise.
“The bell ringing is our largest fundraising campaign to help us help those who are in need. If the kettle program doesn’t do well, then that’s less we’re able to help,” Commanding Officer for the Roanoke Salvation Army, Captain Russell Clay told WFXR.
He says a normal holiday season will bring about 30 volunteers to their door every day ready to fundraise. But for the past three years, there’s been about 10. He says lately, there’s been fewer than 10.
“In the years past, covid has hurt us, but getting volunteers to go out there and ring the bells is what we need the most,” said Captain Clay.
Some bell ringers are paid if they qualify for the assistance, but Captain Clay says the more workers they pay, the less they can provide for their programs like utility assistance, Christmas For Kids, assisting with cut-off notices, food boxes, food pantry, and snack bags.
Because of the shortage, The Salvation Army is now asking people to donate online and on their mobile devices by heading to the website or scanning the barcode that can be found on their signs.
“The eighty-three cents of every dollar that comes in goes out to these programs. So, there’s not too many places that can say that,” Captain Clay said.
The fundraising goal for Roanoke this year is $125,000 and, compared to this time last year, they’re about $12,000 behind.
The Salvation Army bell ringers are needed now through Christmas Eve.