“Every hour you ring is a life transformed,” says Captain Kenneth Alip, from the Salvation Army in Hibbing. “Your help makes a difference, pulling someone out of the cycle of crisis. With every hour or penny you donate, you’re feeding more than just mouths; you’re nourishing hope,” Alip explains. This holiday season, the Salvation Army is asking you to give and become a Bell Ringer at five locations in Hibbing, five in Virginia and one in the Super One in Biwabik. Locally, the Salvation Army needs to fill 520 two-hour shifts between now and Christmas in just the Virginia area. In Hibbing, 178 spots have been booked but 2000 spots still need to be filled up until Christmas.
The Red Kettle campaign started in 1891 when Salvation Army Captain Joseph McFee put out a crab pot to collect donations to provide a free Christmas dinner to the poor in San Francisco. This tradition continues and money in local kettles go to helping people right in our communities.
According to Captain Alip, “An hour of ringing provides a meal for 13 people.”
So, how can you help? How do you become a bell ringer? While anyone is invited to join as a bell ringer, children under 16 will need to be accompanied by a parent or guardian.
STEP ONE: Go to: registertoring.com You will be asked if you are signing up as an individual or a group. Simply enter your zip code and from there you can choose your location and times you would like to volunteer.
Some locations are: Super Ones across the Range, L&M Supply, Hobby Lobby, Jubilee, Walgreen’s and Walmart. many of these locations will not start until after Thanksgiving.
If you have troubles with online registration, you can also call in Virginia at 218-741-1889 and in Hibbing at 218-263-5096.
STEP TWO: Arrive at your registered location. A kettle, aprons and bells will be provided at your location. If there is already a ringer there, just let them know you are the next scheduled volunteer and take over for them.
STEP THREE: Smile and ring! Spread holiday cheer! Thanks folks for their donations.
New this year is a donation via tap. Major Brenda Pittman from the Salvation Army in Virginia is excited for the kettle at Super One South. Pittman explains, “At the Super One South store, there will be a tap. If someone says ‘I don’t have any cash,’ it is very easy to go and tap the denomination they want to give.” Tap will also be available at the Super One in Hibbing. Donations can be made in increments of $5, $10 and $20.
How does this money help our neighbors? In Virginia, money went to over 8000 for food, clothing, and emergency services. In 2023, over 25,000 meals have been served, many to feed children under 12. In Hibbing, the Food Shelf Program helped 8,125 people for a total of 678,644 pounds of food. Their Soup Kitchen served 6,409 people so far in 2023. The numbers are staggering and according to both Alip & Pittman, the need increases every month.
Now is also the time for families to sign up for Christmas food boxes and toys for kids ages 0 – 14. In Hibbing 200 children have already signed-up via the Angel Tree. Simply go to: https://saangeltree.org to apply. Pittman recalls, “Last year, the Lord provided and people on the Range were so great, people walked out of here with a bag full of toys for each kid. People are very, very generous.”
The holidays are a great time to give back to the community. Captain Alip encourages folks, “Join us in making a lasting impact, one hour at a time. Help us help others, and together, let’s create a world where no one goes to bed hungry.”
Joy McJingles write blogs about Iron Range Tourism and Holidays on the Range. Blogs are posted on Thursdays and Sundays.