BAXTER — With the iconic red kettles placed across the community, The Salvation Army needs an army of volunteers to meet its goals this Christmas season.

Members of The Salvation Army Board of Directors and its new leadership with Capts. Jeff and Joyce Curran met Thursday, Nov. 21, at Cub Foods in Baxter to launch the annual giving campaign, the organization’s largest fundraiser.

Cassie Carey and Brian Lehman are Red Kettle Campaign co-chairs. Lehman said 200 to 300 volunteers have assisted the campaign as bell ringers in the past years as individuals or coming in teams representing schools, businesses, churches and organizations. The groups can also take part in friendly competition to help raise money The Salvation Army will use all year to help with projects such as disaster relief, assistance after a fire or with an electric bill or home heating payment, prescription drug payment assistance, a school backpack program with the Brainerd Kiwanis, the food shelf, family meals for the holidays, work with the Scouts BSA, and kids camp. The Salvation Army also sponsors an angel giving tree at the Westgate Mall, provides church services in downtown Brainerd and operates a thrift store among other community efforts.

There are 3,300 volunteer hours possible for the Red Kettle Campaign from its kickoff to Christmas Eve. Lehman said last year, the local campaign had a goal of 1,100 volunteer hours, but came short of that goal. This year, they’d like to improve upon their goal. Currently they have about 800 volunteer hours scheduled. Carey said they’d like to reach a higher bar, perhaps even 2,000 volunteer hours in the community.

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Lehman said people give more when there is a bell ringer next to the kettle. The Brainerd Lakes Salvation Army hopes to raise $155,000 during the 2019 Christmas season.

Volunteers can sign up online at registertoring.com to sign up to ring the bell at one of the 14 locations in the Brainerd lakes area or anywhere in the nation, or they can call 218-829-1120. The Salvation Army reports just two hours at a red kettle raises an average of $60.

“The bell ringing is very important,” said Darrel Olson, Salvation Army board member, who noted without volunteers, paid bell ringers are used and that cuts into the funds for donations, emphasizing the need for the numbers and importance of volunteers.

The Salvation Army provides a basket of food for a meal at the holidays to families and last year was able to provide that full meal to 800 different families in the area.

Captains Joyce (left) and Jeff Curran, Brian Lehman, board member; Cassie Carey, board member;  Darrell Olson, mayor of Baxter; Bob Musielewicz, board member; Jim Nelson, board member; Tom Isle, board member; and John Smith, Salvation Army Church member help kick off the Salvation Army Red Kettle Campaign at Cub Foods in Baxter Thursday, Nov. 21. Steve Kohls  /  Brainerd Dispatch
Captains Joyce (left) and Jeff Curran, Brian Lehman, board member; Cassie Carey, board member; Darrell Olson, mayor of Baxter; Bob Musielewicz, board member; Jim Nelson, board member; Tom Isle, board member; and John Smith, Salvation Army Church member help kick off the Salvation Army Red Kettle Campaign at Cub Foods in Baxter Thursday, Nov. 21. Steve Kohls / Brainerd Dispatch

This year, The Salvation Army is incorporating technology, knowing more and more Americans no longer carry ready cash in their pockets to drop in the kettle. For the first time, the kettles are equipped with smart chips and a QR code on red kettle signs allowing shoppers to “bump” or scan their phone to make a customizable donation.

To donate to the 129th Red Kettle Campaign:

  • Visit Give.SalvationArmyUSA.org.

  • Drop money into any of the thousands of red kettles at partner storefront locations.

  • Ask Amazon Alexa to donate by saying, “Alexa, donate to The Salvation Army,” then specifying the amount.

  • Sign up to give a monthly sustaining donation to help The Salvation Army year-round.

  • Give any amount by texting “KETTLES” to 91999.

  • Use #FightforGood to document giving or volunteering on the campaign on social media.

During the holiday season, about 3 million people rely on The Salvation Army to provide toys for their children on Christmas morning or a warm meal on Christmas Day. Donating to the red kettles also enables The Salvation Army to serve more than 23 million people each year, which includes more than 9 million nights of shelter and 52 million meals, along with substance abuse treatment, after-school programs and emergency shelter for children and families.

To learn more about the Red Kettle Campaign, visit SalvationArmyUSA.org.

“Our Christmas campaign is our biggest and most important fundraiser of the year,” said Capt. Jeff Curran, Salvation Army administrator, in a news release. “Every dollar we raise during the Christmas season will be used to provide critical services for residents of Crow Wing County throughout 2020."

Renee Richardson, managing editor, may be reached at 218-855-5852 or renee.richardson@brainerddispatch.com. Follow on Twitter at www.twitter.com/DispatchBizBuzz.