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Ringing for relief: Red Kettle Campaign kicks off

The bells are back. The Brainerd Lakes Salvation Army kicked off its annual Red Kettle Campaign Thursday with a goal to collect $130,000 this holiday season. Scott Strissel, captain of the local Salvation Army branch, said the organization has se...

Three year veteran Salvation Army bell ringer James Kellen gave up his bell to two-year-old Alexa Hinson at Cub Foods in Baxter Friday. Brainerd Dispatch/Steve Kohls
Three year veteran Salvation Army bell ringer James Kellen gave up his bell to two-year-old Alexa Hinson at Cub Foods in Baxter Friday. Brainerd Dispatch/Steve Kohls

The bells are back.

The Brainerd Lakes Salvation Army kicked off its annual Red Kettle Campaign Thursday with a goal to collect $130,000 this holiday season.

Scott Strissel, captain of the local Salvation Army branch, said the organization has seen an increase in need over the past year and is hoping the generosity of lakes area residents can help to meet it. In 2013 and so far this year, the need in the community has outperformed total income, he added.

"We see an increase in people we are serving monthly," Strissel said. "Generally during the weekdays, when the food shelf is (open) ... you see a line of people."

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Seeking to serve?

To volunteer for the Red Kettle Campaign, call Leah at 829-1120 or sign up online at www.registertoring.org .

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Money donated through the Red Kettle campaign is utilized locally to support the food shelf along with other programs and services to help those in need, including help with rent, mortgages, utilities, lodging and transportation.

The organization needs volunteers to man the kettles and ring the bells, Strissel said, and is aiming to have ringers at numerous grocery and retail locations from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday through Christmas Eve.

"If you ever see an unmanned kettle, it's because we don't have a volunteer there," he said. "I know a lot of people work during the weekdays, so it's always important to try to see if we can cover them. We're calling on groups, churches and service clubs as well as individuals for as many hours as they're able to."

If volunteering outdoors in the cold is an issue, Strissel said there are several indoor locations available, including Cub Foods stores, Super One Foods and the Westgate Mall.

"We certainly can accommodate those in need of an indoor location to help volunteer," he said.

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Strissel said the lakes area has a track record of above average giving and he hopes to see that continue this year.

"We know that need knows no season," he said. "We're trying to fill that void for those in need."

CHELSEY PERKINS may be reached at 855-5874 or chelsey.perkins@brainerddispatch.com . Follow on Twitter at www.twitter.com/DispatchChelsey .

Chelsey Perkins is the community editor of the Brainerd Dispatch. A lakes area native, Perkins joined the Dispatch staff in 2014. She is the Crow Wing County government beat reporter and the producer and primary host of the "Brainerd Dispatch Minute" podcast.
Reach her at chelsey.perkins@brainerddispatch.com or at 218-855-5874 and find @DispatchChelsey on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
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