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Salvation Army kicks off annual Red Kettle campaign

PLATTSBURGH As temperatures seem to drop a little more every day here in the North Country, it seems the holiday season gets closer and closer. And, with the holidays comes the bell ringing and red Christmas kettles of the Salvation Army. On Nov. 13, members of the Salvation Army gathered on the steps of city hall to watch as Mayor Donald M. Kasprzak dropped the first dollar of the season into a kettle. These are difficult times we are all facing and the Salvation Army has always done an outstanding job in assisting our community, said Kasprzak. I am confident the residents of the North Country will be as generous as possible in supporting the Red Kettle campaign this holiday season. We always think of our neighbors and friends first. A tradition dating back to the late 1800s, the red kettles began in San Francisco, Calif., when Capt. Joseph McFee was looking for a way to provide a free Christmas dinner to the needy people of the area. According to information provided by the Salvation Army, McFees thoughts went back to his days as a sailor in Liverpool, England. On the stage landing, he saw a large pot, called Simpsons pot, in which charitable donations were thrown by passers-by. McFee brought this idea out to the streets of San Francisco, and soon the idea spread across the country and the world. The bell ringing is our most visible and really our most prominent and most effective fundraising of the year, said Salvation Army Capt. Wendy Goodman. Although its very labor intensive, its a tradition of Christmas. With approximately 13 kettle sites around Plattsburgh and parts of Peru and Keeseville, Goodman said volunteers are always needed and some paid positions are also offered. We try to operate them six days a week from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., Goodman explained. We do offer some seasonal employment ... its important that were out there to be able to offer some seasonal employment, especially now when a lot of people maybe need that little extra to help with the budget, whether its for Christmas gifts or heating. Goodman added that with more volunteers, however, there will be more money in the end for various services the Salvation Army provides. [Donations] stay within this core or community center of the Salvation Army, Goodman said. Basically, [it goes] to our general operating which runs our food pantry, our soup kitchen, any other social service areas that we have. Some other services include helping people who may need money for utilities, rent, medications or gas for their vehicle. Theres so many different scenarios that people run into where their money just isnt stretching far enough, said Goodman. Although Goodman admits volunteering as a bell ringer is difficult work she appreciates any help they can get. Until you do it, its hard to know how difficult it is to stand there, Goodman said. People who are willing to give their time to help us in that way is very much appreciated. Its really a blessing. Goodman also said there are many people who make the most of their time standing in the cold. We encourage people if they want to bring a boom box, well buy the batteries so they can have some music, Goodman explained. It puts people in a really nice spirit. Were out there to raise money, but were also out their to have fun and let people know that were here for the community. It gives a lot of people that are not familiar with the Salvation Army any other time of the year, a chance to kick in and help the community, Goodman added. Then, the people who are kind of in the trenches with us all year, it kind of gives them the spotlight for a few weeks. A new addition this year to the kettles is adopt a kettle in which people can ask to have a kettle named in memory of a loved one. The Salvation Army will make a sign with the name and picture of the person being honored. Those interested in becoming a bell ringer or looking to adopt a kettle may contact the Salvation Army at 561-2951.

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