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Quietly helping others

The Salvation Army kettles, bell ringers are a seasonal staple

SALVATION ARMY BELL RINGERS at the Light Up Hallock event were, l-r, Maddox Booen (hidden), Rhame Grubbs, Rowan McWaters and Violet Frost. (Photo Courtesy of Jordan Derrick)

By Anna Jauhola
Those who volunteer for The Salvation Army, and those who give to the cause, are all quiet keepers of their neighbors in need.
For the last 25 years, Jeff Hane, Hallock, has been involved with Kittson County Salvation Army. He started sometime before the 1997 flood, when Bob Severson was still at the Brink Lawyers and Doris Fertig, a local teacher, was heavily involved.
“It’s just such an excellent organization. They have such a great ratio of actual money that gets to people instead of being spent on administration or advertising, or whatever,” Hane said. “We do a lot of good.”
The most visible part of The Salvation Army is its red kettles, whether they are on store countertops or on tripods, accompanied by volunteer bell ringers. The kettle campaign begins after Thanksgiving and runs through Christmas Day, Hane said. The kettles are in each community in Kittson County, ready for generous donations from the public.
The Kittson County Salvation Army also keeps a calendar of all events happening between Thanksgiving and Christmas, so they have places for people to ring the bells. Oftentimes, bell ringers are at the local grocery stores, sporting events, holiday concerts and other holiday events.
“It’s kind of fun for families,” Hane said. “In the past, the school service clubs have been really good about bell ringing, especially the Lancaster National Honor Society. They’re one of the best.”
The counter campaign also provides local businesses with a little competition. Each year, The Salvation Army gives out awards for the business and the bell-ringing group that collected the most kettle donations. The Karlstad Korner often won this contest because former owners, Hollis and Carolyn Turnwall, offered free coffee if customers put change in the kettle.
“They raised a ton of money, so we’re hoping another business will have something like that that takes over,” Hane said.
The majority of the money raised for Kittson County Salvation Army, however, comes in through its annual letter campaign. Combined with the red kettle donations, the Kittson unit always meets its fundraising goal.
“People in Kittson County are super generous,” Hane said. “We have a budget every year. We have never raised less than our budget.”
What does The Salvation Army do with its money in Kittson County? Hane said they work with the Kittson County Sheriff’s Office to assist people who are in need such as transients, victims of domestic abuse or those who have lost their house to a fire. There are several people in the county who can’t always afford needed medications or have enough money for gas to get to the doctor. They also provide winter coats and lice treatment kits for the county health nurse to distribute at schools.
“Every year, we help people with utility bills. Some people qualify for heat share or other energy programs, and they quickly exhaust what they have,” he said.
If someone needs help, they send a copy of their utility bill to The Salvation Army, which in turn puts in a request to the regional office in Roseville, Minn. The regional office sends a voucher directly to that utility company.
Kittson County does not have its own bank account locally – everything goes through that regional office. One bit of good news about money raised over and above the budget for Kittson County – it stays in an Outstate Minnesota Fund and is distributed to other outstate Salvation Army entities that need extra funds.
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The Salvation Army has always been good about meeting those gap needs, Hane said.
“People don’t have to worry if they give here, that it won’t get spent in the Twin Cities,” he added.
If there is a disaster, such as the Kennedy elevator fire or the wildfire at Karlstad, The Salvation Army will provide meals for the firefighters and emergency personnel.
In the case of a personal emergency, more times than not, The Salvation Army never gets a call because neighbors pitch in immediately to help.
“In our county, again, people are super generous. So it’s not uncommon that nobody calls us,” Hane said. “The neighbors already got clothes, food, a temporary place to stay, somebody’s loaned them a car. That’s just kind of where we live.”
So how can you help, other than putting your spare change in the Red Kettles?
You can be a bell ringer by calling Hane at 218-843-2045 or at 218-843-3686. He said these are only half-hour shifts and are typically inside.
You can send donations to either Hane at P.O. Box 790, Hallock, MN 56728, or Treasurer Diane (Duck) Younggren, 722 6th St. SE, Hallock.
For those who like to give online, you can visit and click on Ways To Give. Also, several of the kettles feature a QR code, which you can scan with your smartphone and give that way.
“It’s a different world! I still like the sound of the coins hitting the bottom of the kettle,” Hane said.

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