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Bell ringers needed for the holidays

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COLLECTIONS: Smaller collection kettlesare set up outsidegas stations and markets across Wabash County.
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DONATIONS: Deborah Lehman and Mary Ellen Clark discuss where Salvation Army collection kettles will be distributed in Wabash and North Manchester.

by ANDREW CHRISTMAN - achristman@wabashplaindealer.com

Volunteers are needed to ring bells outside local stores, an annual fundraising effort by the Wabash County Salvation Army.

Organized by Mary Ellen Clark and Deborah Lehman of Christ United Methodist Church, as part of the Wabash Area Ministerial Association, annual bell ringers are being sought out to help raise money.

Clark said the money raised each year to help families in need pay utility bills, rent, buy prescriptions or hotel rooms for those who are at risk of becoming homeless. 

Last year, volunteers raised about $13,000. Lehman said she is hopeful they will see around $15,000 this year.

“The more money we get, the more people we can help,” she said. All donations collected by Salvation Army bell ringers in this county will stay in Wabash County. “It’s nice to hear we’re able to help people who are struggling.”

Volunteers can register for two hour shifts through December. As of this writing, Lehman said only 22 shifts – or 25 percent of all shifts through the season – were covered. The most helpful group this year? Students looking to fill community service hours.

“They probably collect half of our money,” Lehman said. “There’s still a great need.”

Volunteers can register to ring bells at the east and west entrances of Walmart in Wabash, the entrance of Kroger in Wabash or the entrance of New Market in North Manchester, all of which were selected due to typically high foot traffic. Lehman added there have already been two stations set up with volunteers during First Friday and the Night to Remember in downtown Wabash prior to the season truly getting started.

At this time, Lehman said there have been no volunteers to take part in North Manchester, but Clark said she is hopeful there is an interest generated from the community and Manchester University students.

While the purpose of volunteering may vary for each individual, Clark said she thinks the best part is seeing bell ringers taking the time to help out their fellow man.

“Someday you might need a hand, and you are paying it forward now,” she said. “I do a lot of ringing, and it makes me feel good knowing this money is staying right here and helping individuals that are struggling.”

Along with the primary bell ringing stations, there are also smaller Salvation Army kettles which have been distributed throughout the county at smaller markets and gas stations which will be open to additional donations.

Before volunteering, Lehman said participants should come prepared for any kind of weather. While ringing can be done inside the door of Kroger, all ringing has to be done outside at the other locations, so plenty of warm clothing, particularly socks and gloves, are encouraged. Lehman even suggests bringing a piece of cardboard to stand on, which will act as an insulator for volunteers’ feet from the concrete.

Those interested in volunteering for bell ringing can visit www.registertoring.com or call Lehman at 260-563-8970.