Bell ringers: Gillette Salvation Army in urgent need

Gillette Salvation Army Director Jenny Hartung, right, and administrative assistant Tammy Van Horn, ring the bells while preparing the iconic red kettles for the holiday season which begins Friday. The local facility is in urgent need of bell ringers to help at one of the four locations in town which collects money that is kept in Campbell County to help feed well over 1,000 families a month. (RJ Morgan/County 17)

The Salvation Army spends every week of every year helping those in need during these tough economic and pandemic times. Today, the small but dedicated team in Gillette needs the community’s help as the holidays are kicking off in a matter of hours.

“We need bell ringers, and this year we need them more than ever,” Salvation Army of Campbell County Director Jenny Nell Hartung said. “We are helping more people than ever with food because of the times we are in, and this program really helps. The support of our volunteers make it all happen and we are really short right on. Any help would be appreciated.”

The Salvation Army Red Kettle Bell Ringing Program is a national tradition which provides volunteers the opportunity to meet the public and support The Salvation Army in a unique way. The success of the program is dependent on volunteers of all kinds – individuals, spouses, family, co-workers, friends from school, fellow church members and youth groups, and even sports teams and clubs.

Salvation Army volunteers Sam Mueller, left, and Marj Beckley stand in front of the bell ringing booth that is available for volunteers at the Hobby Lobby location. (RJ Morgan/County 17)

There are four locations in Gillette that need help with just two-hour shifts – Walgreens, Walmart, Smith’s and Hobby Lobby. For the first time, there will also be a red kettle at Plaid Friday and Small Business Saturday in downtown at Gillette Avenue and 3rd Street in front of The Local.

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Hartung said there are many benefits to joining the national kettle program that raises money which stays local. Just in Gillette, Hartung said her staff is currently issuing 1,500 food boxes a month to help put meals on the tables for families this season.

The Salvation Army provides food for families all year, so the work is never finished, and the funds are always needed to help those in tough times. Bell ringing can also be a rewarding and cheerful experience by simply sharing a smile during the holidays.

“It will also get you in the Christmas spirit real quick,” she said. “Maybe you had a bad day, or bad week or know someone ill or even who passed because of COVID-19. This is way to help lift you up by meeting people, sharing the holiday spirit, wishing others Merry Christmas and hearing Merry Christmas and happy holidays from others. There is so much good about bell ringing, and we hope we can find a few more volunteers to help us and experience the holidays while giving back to the community.”

Those who wish to volunteer for a two-hour shift or multiple can do so by calling Hartung at (307) 680-8881. Volunteers can also sign up online by selecting a location and time by going to Ring the bell.