They’re as much a part of the holiday landscape as Christmas trees, Santa Claus and good cheer. It’s that time of year when shoppers will once again hear the consistent tinkling of the Salvation Army bell ringers who will be out in force at three Rhinelander shopping centers this holiday season. We caught up with Salvation Army Kettle Coordinator Kim Swisher for an interview as she was ringing her bell outside of Trig’s in Rhinelander. She was joined by Tom Bremer, Salvation Army district manager, Duff Damos, NRG operations manager, and Scott King, program director for SAM FM.
Hodag Buyers’ Guide-Why did you decide to become a Kettle Coordinator for the Salvation Army this year?
Kim Swisher-Rhinelander is my community and gives me a lot, and I want to give back and this is a good way to do it.
HBG-Where will bell ringers be stationed this year?
KS-We will be ringing at Shopko, Trig’s and Walmart.
HBG-What is the goal this year on how much money you want to raise?
KS-Last year, we raised just over $35,000 and so this year, we would like to raise at least $36,000.
HBG-Where does this money go?
KS-For every dollar raised 86 cents stays in the Rhinelander community. The rest is used at the state and national level.
HBG-How is the money spent?
KS-There are many areas where the Salvation Army uses its money locally. They help people with emergency housing costs, such as lodging and rent, with utilities, food, transportation and other miscellaneous purposes. Last year, they helped 568 people with housing issues, 139 with utilities, 153 with utilities, 28 with food costs and 49 with transportation costs. Altogether, 947 people were assisted through the Salvation Army in this area alone.
HBG-Are all the shifts filled for this year?
KS– Oh no, we have plenty available. I have about 100 shifts filled and there are 100 more to fill.
HBG-How long are the shifts and what days do the volunteers work?
KS-In general, they last about two hours but we can work with someone who is willing to ring for less than that or even more. We really need volunteers, so we will accommodate them as much as possible. Bell ringers are needed for every day of the week except Sunday. That’s a Salvation Army rule. This is a Christian organization and that is part of their national policy.
HBG-How does someone sign up to become a Salvation Army volunteer?
KS-They can call me at (715) 437-0465 if they want to volunteer at Trig’s or Walmart. Jan Leschke is coordinating ShopKo and her number is (715) 362-7157. Volunteers can also see what shifts are available online at oneidawi.volunteerfirst.org.
HBG-Can kids be bell ringers?
KS-They can, but kids under age 16 have to be accompanied by an adult.
HBG-How long does the campaign last?
KS-We will ring bells up until Dec. 23.
HBG-You seem like you are really having fun. Is that part of the bell ringing experience?
KS-Yes, very much so. You meet some very nice and generous people. Everyone is so friendly and it really puts people into the holiday spirit, especially the volunteers.