Bell-ringing returns later this week: Here’s why this year is extra important

Salvation Army looking for volunteers to donate time & money

MADISON, Wis.– Holiday music is back on the radio, and soon, the sound of jingle bells will also be in the air. The Salvation Army’s annual Red Kettle Campaign kicks off Friday, Nov. 13, and although it feels like organizers say it every year, this year’s fundraiser in particular is essential.

Since the start of the pandemic, the Salvation Army of Dane County has been serving three times the number of homeless families it typically does and providing a safe place for twice the number of single women at its overnight shelter. That shelter is now open 24/7 and is the only one of its kind in the county.

Now, because of the coronavirus, the Salvation Army has had to overhaul how it helps families in need. Workers have replaced the usual buffet with individually-packaged meals served with disposable utensils. Every family is given masks and hand sanitizer. Workers have been logging extra hours cleaning. And those efforts have been successful: the Salvation Army has been able to serve more families than ever before, while avoiding the spread of COVID-19 in its facilities.

“The biggest thing is these people have come to us because they have nowhere else to go,” explained Steve Heck, Director of Operations at the Salvation Army of Dane County.

“When you want to make a difference in the lives of other people, whether its donating to a virtual kettle or coming to ring for an hour or two, you are changing their lives forever.”

Despite the challenges 2020 has created, the Salvation Army has remarkably still been able to help a record number of families find permanent housing: the organization’s ultimate goal.

Unfortunately, the number of homeless families in Dane County continues to rise, and the Salvation Army doesn’t expect that trend to end anytime soon.

Now, they’re asking for your help:

Click here to donate your time, and sign up for a bell-ringing shift.

Click here to donate money to the Salvation Army’s virtual kettle campaign.

And don’t forget to look for the kettles outside dozens of Dane County grocery stores starting Friday!

The Salvation Army is also making CDC-compliant changes to keep donors and volunteers safe during the pandemic. News 3 Now will be sharing that information all week long on-air and online.