Red kettles appear every holiday season. However in Southern West Virginia, those kettles and the people who man them have been slowly disappearing. The Red Kettle Campaign is well known. But this year, there’s a lack of volunteers at the Bluefield Salvation Army. That’s not stopping volunteer Don Maclay from giving his time.
Maclay said, “Don’t have to do much. You just have to be pleasant. I’m sure a smiling face will bring in more money. You just get a lot of satisfaction.”
He plans on offering up his time all week at the entrance of the Wal-Mart in Bluefield.
Maclay said, “There’s just so many people in need this time of year specifically the kids factor in quite a bit for me.” It doesn’t take too much time to help other people out.”
Lt. Commander Howard Hoffman said the numbers of volunteers has slowing been decreasing in recent years across the United States.
Hoffman said right now they only have 5 volunteers at 5 different locations out of the 15. That means that at any given time, there are 10 locations without a bell ringer. The faith based organization serves Mercer, McDowell and Tazewell Counties. Unlike other Salvation Army posts in other parts of the U.S., there are no inmates, court assigned community service or paid bell ringers. Volunteers are the only way the kettles will be staffed. The hours needed for bell ringers are from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Hoffman said, “Support the Salvation Army today. I have a bell for you.”
The Bluefield Salvation Army serves at least 12, 000 people a year and provides toys to more than 400 children this Christmas. Hoffman said so far they’ve raised a little more than $30,000. That’s down from the $70,000 raised last year. The last day of the campaign is on December 24, 2015. Anyone interested in volunteering can call the Salvation Army at 304-327-7411.