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Bundle up, help out, ring a bell

In spite of COVID-19, one of the classic sounds of Christmas will still be heard this season. But you won’t hear it at your local school. In place of Salvation Army bell ringing at high school sports and holiday events, for 2020 the only bell ringing you’ll hear in Kittson County will be outside of two local grocery stores.
And the little red kettles in local businesses will be more important than ever this season for the local Salvation Army unit.
“We’re very concerned,” said Jeff Hane. “In the past, nearly all of our bell ringing has taken place at basketball games, Christmas events and hockey games.  This year we’ll have none of those.”
In place of this, the service unit is encouraging shoppers to donate to the red kettle on the checkout counter at one of their local businesses or add to their yearly gift in response to  the unit’s annual fundraising letter.
One of Kittson County’s top counter kettles has been at Karlstad Korner.  In the last decade, it has consistently been the best donation site out of the 25 sites in the county. During the Christmas season, owners Hollis and Carolyn Turnwall encourage their customers to place a donation in the kettle in return for free coffee.
“And we’re still taking bell ringing volunteers,” said Hane, “but they’ll all be outside.”
Historically, Salvation Army bell-ringers worked outside in downtown areas.  Then in the 1990s, as a service to the community, local school and civic groups started bell ringing indoors before concerts, plays and games. This year, the service unit is requesting that volunteer bell ringers be members of the same household. Grocery shoppers will see only one or two bell ringers at a time.  When available, volunteers will ring for half-hour shifts, evenings in front of the Farmers Store in Hallock or Super Market Foods in Karlstad.
Families and individuals can sign up for bell ringing by calling 843-3686.
Each year the local unit of the Salvation Army provides meals and shelter for transients, transportation expenses for medical treatment, help with utility bills, backpacks and school supplies, emergency food and shelter for disaster victims, and other assistance to needy people in Kittson County.
To donate, write to Salvation Army, P.O. Box 790, Hallock, MN 56728.  The same contact information can be used to refer someone for services.

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