Help needed to fight hunger and poverty
Published 9:00 am Sunday, November 15, 2015
Bell ringers make first appearance of the holidays
Volunteer bell ringers graced the halls of Albert Lea grocery stores Friday for the first time this year, hoping to raise money to help those in need.
The bell ringers, located at Hy-Vee and Marketplace Foods, were accepting donations on behalf of the Albert Lea Salvation Army to support World Hunger Day, an annual event that celebrates sustainable solutions to ending extreme hunger and poverty.
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Bell ringing took place Friday and Saturday to support the cause.
The Salvation Army’s annual Red Kettle Christmas Campaign begins Nov. 27 and lasts through Christmas Eve at Marketplace Foods, Northbridge Mall, Hy-Vee, Shopko and both doors at Walmart.
The bell ringers’ hours will be from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday; from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday at Marketplace Foods, Hy-Vee and Walmart; and from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday at Northbridge Mall and Shopko.
The organization hopes to raise $192,000 from the Christmas campaign, including $105,000 from the red kettle and counter kettle, $64,000 from mail appeals and $23,000 from in-house donations.
The Salvation Army raised $191,047 in 2014 from the Christmas Campaign, said Kathy Belshan, office manager at the Salvation Army.
The fundraising assists the Salvation Army in its numerous functions — including youth programs, meals, social services and its food pantry.
Bell ringers Elsie Cline and Marilynn Lancaster looked at the effort as a chance to improve their community and strengthen their faith.
“It means there is change in the community, for the betterment of the community and the betterment of God,” Lancaster said.
Lancaster said she has noticed more people requesting assistance from the Salvation Army, and that the fundraiser wouldn’t be possible without community backing.
“It’s a blessing to be able to do this,” she said.
The Salvation Army hosts meals from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and 5 to 6 p.m. Wednesdays and Fridays at the Albert Lea Salvation Army.
According to Belshan, the organization assists more than 4.5 million people during the Thanksgiving and Christmas season.
Belshan said more bell ringers are needed. The volunteers work in two-hour shifts, she said. Anyone interested in being a volunteer bell ringer is advised to visit the Salvation Army website at salvationarmynorth.org/albertlea or call the Salvation Army office at 507-373-5710.