FAIRMONT — The Salvation Army’s Red Kettle Campaign is in full ring.
The sound of jingling bells can be heard outside several stores in Marion County as the organization carries out its largest fundraiser of the year.
Salvation Army Lt. Sheldon Greenland said the fundraising goal for Marion, Monongalia and Preston counties this year is $300,000.
Although the campaign is going a little slow, Greenland expects it to pick up now.
“Usually, it does pick up as we get closer to Thanksgiving and after Thanksgiving, it typically picks up,” he said.
The money raised in Marion County stays in the county, and helps pay for the organization’s local social services. The international nonprofit offers emergency food assistance, utility assistance, prescription assistance and operates the Salvation Army Thrift Store in Fairmont.
According to Heather Hawkins, the director of the Salvation Army’s service center in Marion County, bell ringers currently can be found at both Price Cutter stores in Fairmont, the Price Cutter in Mannington, Food Lion in Fairmont, Save A Lot in Bellview and Family Dollar on East Park Avenue in East Side.
She said there were also be bell ringers at both doors of Walmart in White Hall, starting on Black Friday.
“The Red Kettle program is essential to our funding for the year to be able to assist clients all year long with things like food, utility assistance, rental evictions,” Hawkins said. “It’s essential to our social service programs throughout the year, in addition to our Christmas ones.”
This year, there are more than 20 volunteer groups doing the bell ringing, according to Hawkins.
Generally, she said the organization likes to use volunteers whenever possible, but when there are no volunteers occasionally, it will pay people to ring the bells.
Todd Herron has been volunteering as a bell ringer for seven years.
“I like it a lot actually,” he said. “It’s pretty good. I get to see the sunset every day, when I’m doing it.”
He said he also gets to meet people, and hear all kinds of stories.
When it’s cold, he finds a way to keep warm.
“I pace back and forth,” he said.
He said he keeps coming back as a bell ringer because he likes to meet new people.
He said “thank you” is the most frequent comment he hears.
For Herron, the Red Kettle Campaign has long been familiar to him. It touches a special place in his heart.
“I always donated to the kettle ever since I saw it, when I was a little kid,” he said. “They’ve helped out a lot of people.”
He said “it’s good to support the local people in need.”