By SAMANTHA MCDONNELL
OBSERVER Staff Writer
The season of giving is upon us. Shoppers at Big Lots, Tops and Walmart will be used to the similar sounds of bell ringing by Salvation Army volunteers.
The Thursday Morning Knitters and Crocheting Group at St. John’s United Church of Christ in Dunkirk donated red bells to the Salvation Army bell ringers to identify them this holiday season. Bell ringers will be in the community at various commercial spots until Christmas Eve. Pictured, from left, are Sandy Pryll Wasiewicz, knitter; Ronnie Lafferty, bell ringer; Lt. Daniel Gonzalez, Salvation Army; Judy Reynolds, bell ringer; and Louise Kowal, knitter.
Something different this year about the volunteers will be their attire. Volunteers were given red bell pins that were donated by a local knitting group. The Thursday Morning Knitters and Crocheting Group at St. John's United Church of Christ in Dunkirk made the bells for volunteers to wear while bell ringing. According to Lt. Daniel Gonzalez of the Salvation Army, the group also has made winter gear to be handed out by the Salvation Army to families in need.
"We definitely thank them for their hard work. Not only did they make the bells, they're making hats, gloves and mittens for families. We're going to be giving those out to families (in need)," Gonzalez said.
He said mostly female bell ringers wear the bell pins donated by the church group but they serve as an identifier to the public. Last year, the Salvation Army had problems with a volunteer stealing from a kettle while bell ringing. Gonzalez said the organization screens people more carefully who want to volunteer.
"We're careful with screening now, we meet with people get their IDs. A lot of people (who volunteer) are through agencies," Gonzalez said.
The Red Kettle Campaign is the biggest fundraiser for the Salvation Army throughout the year. All proceeds collected until Dec. 24 will stay local.
"It goes for the food pantry and any assistance we can assist with the community with - food, furniture and clothes," Gonzalez said.
The Salvation Army's goal this year is to raise $47,000 through the campaign. Gonzalez said even the smallest donations helps and residents should not be afraid to give even a quarter.
"Whatever you can give, it will help. You'd be surprised how many quarters (we collect). We open the kettle that has $100 in it and usually $50 of it is in quarters," said Gonzalez. "We need the most help that we can get. This is what keeps us going the rest of the year. We just want to thank the community for their giving. They've really been generous this year."
Volunteers are still needed for shifts through Christmas Eve from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily. To volunteer, contact Lt. Laura Gonzalez of the Salvation Army at 753-0998. The minimum shift is two hours in length but volunteers may sign up for additional shifts, however long someone wants to ring, Gonzalez said.
For those who cannot donate in person, an online red kettle is available. Donations will be accepted until January online at www.onlineredkettle.org/teamdunkirk.
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