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Kettle season inspires hope for those less fortunate

For well over 100 years (starting in December of 1891 to be exact), The Salvation Army has been making life better for less fortunate men, women and children during the holidays as well as any other time during the year when their assistance is needed.

This year will be no exception, supported by the kickoff of the 2011 Christmas Kettle campaign today, that will place a number of volunteers in a variety of locations "to ring the bell" for the annual fundraising campaign conducted by The Salvation Army.

The goal for this year's campaign is being announced this morning.

Shortly after that, you will be noticing volunteers at 32 different kettle locations around the metro area. They will be easily recognizable by the smiling faces and the sound of that familiar ringing bell, that will ultimately translate into donations for services that will go a long way in changing lives of many people who might otherwise go without.

A number of local individuals volunteer their time and effort to this valuable cause, including West Fargo Fire Chief Roy Schatschneider, a member of the Salvation Army Advisory Board. Schatschneider is overseeing the volunteer effort for two West Fargo kettle sites - Sunmart, and new to the campaign this year, Old Navy.

Visiting the Sunmart store, you will be able to begin your giving immediately (Monday through Saturday); while Old Navy will be manned with volunteers on Fridays and Saturdays only, starting after the Thanksgiving holiday. The collections will continue through Christmas Eve day.

Schatschneider said he enjoys his involvement with this yearly project, always looking forward to what he can do to help make the campaign run smoothly.

"I just enjoy talking to the different groups and getting people lined up for this because they are always so willing to help out," he noted. "It is really easy to find people to participate in the kettle campaign and I really enjoy doing it."

Schatschneider said he and fellow firefighters are filled with special appreciation for all The Salvation Army does for the fire department during the year. "They are so good about getting out to the scene for major incidents whether it's a fire or rescue or whatever. When something happens it's always a sure bet the Salvation Army emergency responders will be out there with their canteen. They support the firefighters and the victims, working with the Red Cross to make sure all needs are attended to."

As a very small way of paying it back, firefighters will be among the volunteers taking their turns at Old Navy and at Sunmart Store, filling two of those dates. Members of the West Fargo Exchange Club and West Fargo Lions Club as well as other organizations are also pitching in to help man the red kettle duties.

"We have had really good support from the public out there," Schatscheider said. That was also the case during the West Fest parade. "Once people heard we were taking donations for The Salvation Army, they dug out their change and pulled out dollar bills and gladly gave - everybody from the small kids to the senior citizens. It was really great to see. That's kind of how they view the red kettle campaign also. People are so familiar with The Salvation Army and what they actually do. They are always so visible as the first organization on the scene of disaster supporting the victims. The people know where there money goes and they see it returned to them."

Schatschneider said he is still in need of a few volunteers for a couple of Fridays that are open at both of the West Fargo locations. Anyone interested in contributing their time this particular day is encouraged to call him at 433-5380.

With the 32 Kettle Campaign sites across the entire metro area, volunteers are also still needed to man the Monday through Thursday effort at various locations. Anyone interested in helping out at any of these sites is encouraged to contact Gerri Leach at the Salvation Army at 356-2689.

So keeping with the traditional spirit of holiday giving, when you are out and about and hear that familiar resounding ring, dig deep into those pockets or wallet and make a concerted effort to give. Whatever you can donate will go a long way in positively affecting a life.