Bell-ringer applications flood Salvation Army


• The Salvation Army will begin its Red Kettle campaign at 2 p.m. today at Mesa Mall. The event will take place at the inside mall entrance to J.C. Penney Co.

A lot of things will seem familiar when The Salvation Army launches its Red Kettle campaign at Mesa Mall today.

There will be the familiar look of the kettles, the familiar ring of the bells, the familiar organizations that have long lent their support to the annual campaign, which enables The Salvation Army to provide food, toys and clothing to the needy during the Christmas season.

But The Salvation Army also is experiencing something rare this year: an abundance of bell-ringers.

The nonprofit organization traditionally has struggled to find enough people it can hire to bundle up against the cold and stand out in front of grocery and retail stores for a few hours at a time. Last year, it accepted applications into December, according to Capt. Dan Wilson.

This year, The Salvation Army received 150 applications for 30 jobs that pay $8 an hour and often are filled by disabled or homeless residents, he said.

“It just shows there are people out of work, and they’re trying to survive,” Wilson said. “They’re trying to do whatever they can.”

Wilson said donors contributed $185,000 to the Red Kettle campaign in Mesa County last year, which was down a bit from 2007. In spite of the recession, he said he hopes to raise $200,000 with this year’s campaign, which runs through Christmas Eve.

“I’m not sure if that’s too ambitious a goal or not, but I just know a lot of people are coming in looking for help,” he said.

In addition to raising money through the large kettles and bell-ringers, Salvation Army spokeswoman Claudia Jackson said the organization hopes to find local businesses that will place kettles on their counters.


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