Ringing in the holiday season

Salvation Army seeks bell ringers

By: Maria Allard | Farmington Press | Published November 8, 2012


FARMINGTON HILLS —  When she was 12 years old, Rae Lynn Harvey picked up her musical horn and joined her father and younger brother to participate in the Salvation Army’s Red Kettle Campaign.

“The best part was helping the Salvation Army help others,” she said. “That’s the main reason I did it.”

Harvey has never stopped helping others. As volunteer and events coordinator with the Salvation Army Farmington Hills Community Corps Center, she seeks volunteers for the nonprofit organization’s 2012 Red Kettle Campaign. Groups and individuals are welcome.

“We need people to go out and man the kettle sites,” Harvey said. Salvation Army officials provide and deliver the kettles.

Bell ringers collect donations from shoppers who drop money into a red kettle, while making their way in and out of stores. Bell ringers can start in the morning, as early as 10 a.m. The last shifts usually finish by 8 or 9 p.m. Money collected at red kettles benefits the Salvation Army’s 2012 Red Kettle Campaign goal of raising $8.5 million to provide various services throughout the year to help those in need.

Applications are currently being accepted for volunteer and paid shifts. Shifts are available Nov. 9-Dec. 24, Monday-Saturday. Paid five-hour shifts begin at $8 per hour. Volunteer shifts range from two to four hours, depending on the site.

Individuals can volunteer at nine local sites, including 12 Oaks Mall, Busch’s Market, Kroger and Walmart. Paid bell ringers can ring at a variety of 42 local sites throughout Farmington Hills, New Hudson, Novi, South Lyon, Southfield and Milford.

Since bell ringers stand outside, Harvey reminds them to dress according to the weather, including wearing mittens, scarves and boots.

Farmington resident Dennis Mahle, 72, will celebrate his 18th year as a bell ringer this Christmas season. He’ll join other members of St. John Lutheran Church of Farmington Hills to make spirits bright and collect donations. In past years, adults as well as young children have rung bells.

“It’s a fun thing to do,” he said. “Families with their kids sitting in little chairs, that has been so wonderful. It’s a feeling of giving back to help others.”

In those early years, St. John only had a couple of members volunteer.

“We had two people, then nine, up to 22, then up to 44,” he said, adding that the group has grown to about 100 people. And more are welcome.

There was a time when St. John members manned the kettle at the former Kmart on Grand River. When shoppers saw how cold they were, Mahle said, they would come out with hats, gloves and scarves for the volunteers to wear.

“People respond to us surprisingly good, really good,” Mahle  said. “We’re so successful at doing it, it would be hard to give up. People connect with us and put a little coin or some paper into the kettle.”

Some of the St. John members have joked: “We take Master Card, but we won’t give it back,” Mahle said.

Potential volunteers for the Salvation Army Farmington Hill Community Corps Center can visit www.registertoring.com/salmich or call (248) 477-1153, ext. 12. Applications are accepted 10 a.m.-noon and 1-3:30 p.m. Monday through Friday at 27500 Shiawassee Road, Farmington Hills.

Monetary contributions are accepted Nov. 9-Jan. 31, 2013. There are many ways to make a tax-deductible contribution to The Salvation Army Red Kettle Campaign: Visit www.salmich.org, call (877) SAL-MICH or text GOODMICH to the number 80888 for an automatic $10 donation. Checks and money orders made payable to The Salvation Army can be sent to 16130 Northland Dr., Southfield, MI, 48075.

The Salvation Army, founded by William and Catherine Booth in London, England, in 1865, is a faith-based, nonprofit organization dedicated to serving people in need. This past year, the Salvation Army of Metro Detroit provided more than 3.2 million meals and 677,051 nights of shelter for the homeless.