Bells Toll For A Good Cause

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kettlePerhaps no one symbol of the generous spirit of the season is more iconic than the bell ringers of the Salvation Army’s “Red Kettle” brigades. These hardy fundraisers brave winter’s chill outside grocery stores and shops, a reminder to holiday shoppers that charity may begin at home, but it doesn’t end there.

In Manhasset, the Kiwanis Club and the Key Club students from the high schools are taking the lead in providing volunteer bell-ringers. Jeannette Whitehead from Manhasset/Port Washington Kiwanis was busy ringing the bell in front of the Manhasset Post Office this past weekend. Whitehead has been a bell ringer for the Salvation Army for a number of years.

The support of lively, engaged volunteers is critical to the success of the Red Kettle drive, and especially this year, with the Christmas season shortened by a late Thanksgiving holiday compounding larger economic pressures. Music and youth, experienced volunteers know, boost donations.

“When you add music to a Kettle, the giving is enhanced exponentially,” explains Major Philip Wittenberg of the Salvation Army’s Hempstead Citadel Corps. “And if there are small children, it really warms people’s hearts.”

Even not-so-small children open wallets. The high school volunteers will sing, dance or wear funny hats. “The kids get more donations than adults,” says Lazaunik. “People are really happy to see the kids.”

If donors are happy to see young volunteers, the volunteers are equally delighted by young donors. “You see little kids come drop in their pennies,” says Williams. “It’s just so nice that there are so many people out there who care about their neighbors.

The wintry chill isn’t necessarily a bad thing, either, when you’re trying to raise money. “People have more sympathy when you’re standing in the cold,” says Bill Moseley, a Salvation Army advisory board member who has been working the Red Kettle—often with his guitar, because it brings in “two to three times the donations”—for 25 years.

Although schools and civic organizations take the lead in providing bell-ringers, the organization easily accommodates solo volunteers as well.

“We get individuals that call and say ‘I want to teach my kids about service. Can we ring the bell for three hours at Roosevelt Field?’ and we always say ‘yes’,” explains Major Philip Wittenberg of the Salvation Army’s Hempstead Citadel Corps. “With lots of people it has almost become a tradition.”

“We do see quite a bit of volunteers from the North Shore,” Wittenberg adds.

 

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