The Stevens County Salvation Army Red Kettle campaign exceeded their 2019 goal by nearly $3,500. The goal for the season was to raise $15,000 and bell ringers managed to bring in $18,481.04. Red Kettle Campaign chairperson Verna Zeiher and board member Carol Wilcox were excited to announce the record-breaking donations for the year and thank everyone who helped in any way to make this happen.
Zeiher became involved with the Red Kettle Campaign over 13 years ago. She grew up in Fergus Falls and attended the Salvation Army Church. She loves doing this, stating it is a great organization that does a lot of good. All of the money raised during the Stevens County campaign stays in Stevens County.
Wilcox got involved with the Salvation Army several years ago when Police Chief Curt Wiese asked her to join. At that time, the Salvation Army helped one of her students pay for school pictures.
There are six other members on the Salvation Army board along with hundreds of people who volunteer time and money to the bell ringing program each year. The bell ringers can sign up for a time slot at the Salvation Army store in Morris. This year a new aspect was added with challenges. The area 4-H Clubs and financial institutions challenged each to raise the most money. Horton 4-H Club raised the most, taking in $929.96 with Rendsville and Swan Lake close behind. Hodges and Pep and Progress 4-H Clubs also participated.
Dacotah Bank far out did other financial institutions taking in $1,120.49. Ag Country Farm Credit Services was in second place. Bank of the West and Riverwood Bank also participated.
Bell Ringers are not limited to groups or businesses. Several individuals, organizations and even daycares volunteer to ring the bells. After losing the Shopko site, all bell ringing was done at Willies in Morris. For some it is a social event or a teaching moment for children. Zeiher added that they also had counter kettles at businesses throughout the county.
The money raised during the Red Kettle bell ringing stays in the county and pays for several projects. One of these is the fall Back-to-School project. With the help of the University of Minnesota, Morris, Morris Area Schools and Bremer Bank, backpacks, filled with school supplies, are given to school age children in need. Last year the backpacks went to 59 families and 129 children. Extra supplies are also given to teachers in case someone runs out during the school year. As a former teacher, Wilcox realizes how vital this program is to children.
The Salvation Army also provided money for fruit baskets given out at the group homes while a local confirmation class went caroling. Meals during disaster drills in the county are provided by the Salvation Army. A publication called ‘War Cry’ is distributed to nursing homes along with serving root beer and sherbet floats to the residents.
Vouchers are also distributed as needed by Stevens County Human Services for beds, gas, rent, utilities and hotel rooms. These are often given in emergency situations.
There are many good things that come out of the Salvation Army, all because of the ‘good’ in area people. The board is always looking for more members and more volunteers. Just contact Verna Zeiher if you are interested.
“I want to thank all of the bell ringers,” Zeiher stated, “and also the very, very generous people of Stevens County. There are so many good people out there.”