Think of others when you see the SA’s Red Kettles

Red kettles MAIN

Keeping with tradition, about 1,000 people will ring the  Salvation Army bell this season, reminding shoppers and passers-by their donations will help the less fortunate.

The annual Red Kettle Campaign began the Friday after Thanksgiving, although some ringers were out earlier.

In Wicomico County, ringers will be at more than 20 locations until Christmas, said Major Vic Tidman, director of the Salisbury Salvation Army.

“One of the unique things about the Red Kettle program is that it’s all volunteer. Right now we need to sign up people to be ringers. Even people who signed up in the past, we need them to come back,” he said. All are welcome, although those younger than 16 should have an adult  with them.

“One slogan we use is, ‘Change goes in and change goes out,’ he said, adding a study indicated the average gift is 78 cents. It’s an older study, though, so Tidman said he hopes the amount has increased.

The goal is  $220,000 for 2014. Last year’s goal was 212,000.

“There have been years when we haven’t reached our goal, but we’ve been very fortunate. Last year and this year we had very short ringing seasons the way Thanksgiving and Christmas  fell. We don’t ring on Sundays, so we only have 23 days or so,” Tidman said.

The campaign ends at Christmas.

“We have people who sign up  to ring for an hour. Most people take a three or four-hour shift. We do have some people who will ring all day. I’ve even had cases where somebody rings from  9 to 9, like at a Walmart, 12 hours. They are very dedicated. We’ll take everything from one hour to 12 hours,” Tidman said.

Salisbury Mayor Jim Ireton manned the kettle at Boscov’s and Walmart this year and wouldn’t miss the opportunity.

“I ring the bell for the city and the Democratic Club. I’m the kid back in the 1970s that found a second home at the Salvation Army off Vine Street. I would not miss the opportunity to ring the bell for them,” the mayor said.

Salisbury City Council President Jake Day will ring, too.

“I haven’t yet this year but I will. I did it last year. It’s a fantastic campaign and always a great success,” he said.

He credited former Salvation Army Major Gene Hogg and Tidman, calling them “incredible people” and saying he’s confident the annual goal will be met.

Tidman, he said, rang downtown at a recent Third Friday, a fact the modest major didn’t share. “That’s OK. I’ll brag on him,” Day said.

Donated funds are used in this area to help the less fortunate at Christmas. “The first call on these funds is the Christmas effort. We will help 1,010 children and 700 families,” Tidman explained.

Through the Angel Tree Program, donors give what they are able, and the Salvation Army sees that every child receives two gifts and an article of clothing.

Boxes of food are also distributed to families and youth at risk are helped.

“The Red Kettle Campaign helps support the entire Salvation Army operation. In Wicomico County, it’s very much youth focused. What we talk about is, sharing is caring. It gives people the opportunity to share God’s grace in their lives with the less fortunate,” Tidman said.

He called ringing the bell “uplifting.”

“There are a lot of people who help us, who the Salvation Army  helped in the past, and now we don’t need to anymore,” said Tidman, an officer 25 years.

“I look forward to ringing. I’ve done it this year and it gives me a chance to get out during the season and see people. It’s an opportunity to provide a bridge between people who are giving and receiving,” he said.

“We’re thanking all the folks who ring for us in advance. Bells have rung every year in the 101-year history of the Salvation Army. It’s 101 years old in Salisbury and more than 100 nationwide,” he said.

“The amazing thing is, it takes a lot of small gifts to do great things when put it all together.”

Reach Susan Canfora at scanfora@newszap.com.

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