‘You are making a difference in somebody’s life’

Published 10:53 pm Friday, November 30, 2018

Bell-ringing campaign underway for local Salvation Army


The Albert Lea Salvation Army hopes to raise $193,000 this year during its Christmas campaign.

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Bell-ringers are at Hy-Vee, Shopko, Marketplace Foods and Bomgaars until Christmas Eve. Salvation Army Lt. Gloria Pelayo said bell-ringers will hopefully be in stores from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. at Marketplace Foods and Hy-Vee, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at Bomgaars and 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. at Shopko.

“Every day I have open spots,” Pelayo said. “It’s very rare when I have the whole thing ready.”

As of Friday morning, approximately $6,480 had been raised so far in the kettle campaign and $5,797 in mail-in appeals.

“This year we started better than last year,” she said.

“It’s way smaller than last year’s. Hopefully this year we will meet our goal.”

Pelayo said the donations help the organization pay a case worker and cook, and help the community in other ways.

“We need other stuff, and we want to be as faithful as possible with everybody,” she said. “They give us money to buy food. We want to buy food with the money, so sometimes we need extra money that we can use in wherever we need.”

Pelayo said donations stay in Albert Lea.

A child drops a donation in the kettle Friday for the Salvation Army. – Colleen Harrison/Albert Lea Tribune

“It doesn’t go to other places, and we are faithful in taking the donations for what people ask us to,” she said. “If they want a donation for certain, specific thing, we use it for that thing.”

Last year, Salvation Army’s overall goal for total donations was $201,500. The organization received $183,545.

On Wednesday, Austin’s and Albert Lea’s Salvation Army will compete to see which can gather more $5 bills. On Dec. 15, every dollar placed in kettles will be matched up to $20,000.

Volunteer Marvin Raatz will compete that day against Muscatine, Iowa-based Salvation Army Lt. Cristian Lopez.

The Salvation Army will have a Christmas food donation Dec. 13 and a Christmas toy distribution Dec. 20 at the Freeborn County Fairgrounds. Applications are needed before participating. The Salvation Army goes to nursing homes and assisted living facilities during the Christmas season, and singers from the Salvation Army church perform. 

Anyone interested in bell-ringing can register online or by calling 507-373-8776.

In saying why people should donate to the Salvation Army, Pelayo discussed her motivation.

“For me, as a Christian person, as a God believer, maybe I don’t have the money to donate, but I can donate my time,” she said. “To me, it is something very personal that I just choose to do, and I think it has to be something personal for people.”

Bell-ringer Patti Johnson said Friday she was motivated to volunteer after she a man told her while shopping that he has spent $25 to buy food for children since the recent passing of his wife.

Johnson, a Kwik Trip employee who rang bells for two hours, said she donated 29 pounds of food this year and challenged her co-workers to ring bells with her. She expects a few co-workers to ring bells this year.

“To me, I am doing good,” she said.

“It makes me feel good about myself.”

Johnson said people should donate because of the difference doing so makes.

“It’s a good feeling because you are making a difference in somebody’s life,” she said.

Albert Lea High School students Emily Taylor and Katie Funk ring bells for the Salvation Army on Friday night at Hy-Vee as members of the high school’s National Honor Society. – Colleen Harrison/Albert Lea Tribune

About Sam Wilmes

Sam Wilmes covers crime, courts and government for the Albert Lea Tribune.

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