11/18/2013 11:53:00 AM Byron's kettle in need of volunteers
By David Richards
The Rochester Salvation Army, which covers Olmsted County, is looking for volunteers to brave the cold and the occasional snow for its annual red kettle campaign.
The effort, which raises money for food, shelter and clothing for local residents in need, kicked off at Byron's lone kettle location, Market Place grocery store, last Saturday, Nov. 16. It continues in the county through Dec. 24.
"That hour you spend in the cold, you have to think about the person you're helping and the days and weeks and months they're out in the cold," said Dave Ferber, director of community engagement for The Salvation Army.
The Byron kettle needs ringers on Wednesdays and Fridays from 4 to 8 p.m. and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. during both the months of November and December.
Any unclaimed shifts will leave the kettle without a bell ringer, which Ferber said makes a significant difference in the amount of funds raised.
"An unstaffed kettle literally brings pocket change, while a staffed kettle can result in $40 to $50 an hour," he said.
That amount goes up even more, Ferber said, if ringers throw in a song or some creativity.
Last year's Olmsted County kettle campaign raised $358,000. The Salvation Army has a goal this year of $375,000.
"I've seen accordion players," Ferber said. "I've seen elves with the ears and the curled up toes. I've seen violin players and even a snowman."
Last year, the Red Kettle campaign in Olmsted County provided 20,000 meals; saw an average of 425 families a month in the social services; provided medical and dental care to 2,500 local residents who have no insurance or are underinsured; and provided toys and gift cards to more than 940 families (2,250 children) during the Christmas period, just to name a few.
The Salvation Army's red kettle campaign was started in 1891 by an SA captain who remembered what he saw in England and started a similar effort in San Francisco by placing a pot on the wharf.
The Rochester campaign started five years later.
The red kettle campaign is part of the Salvation Army's annual Christmas Campaign, which brought in more than $1 million last year countywide.
""This is our time of year," Ferber said. "The Christmas Campaign will bring a third of our income, and all of the funds raised stay local."
To volunteer to ring the bell at the Byron red kettle, visit www.rochestersa.org or call (507) 288-3663.