Bell Ringers Needed

Meridian, Miss. The countdown to Christmas is in full swing. With less than two weeks left until Christmas, officials with the Salvation Army office in Meridian say there's a need for more volunteers.

"We have more this year than last year, but nowhere near what we need."

Major Walter Strong heads up the local Salvation Army which directly serves: Lauderdale, Newton, Neshoba and Kemper Counties. He's talking about the number of volunteer bell-ringers that are needed as part of the agency's annual Kettle Campaign.

"We have a little than 3,000 hours of bell-ringing; so, we need a lot!"

With that many hours, and roughly a half dozen groups with some of their members to volunteer, Major Strong is reaching out to church and civic groups, or even individuals to volunteer.

"If you are a group, and you can get five people to stand two hours you've got the whole day covered. If you only want to stay one hour then you find ten people."

With volunteers based at a number of stores throughout three of the counties it serves, Major Strong says there are simply not enough volunteers, and that's why the agency has no choice but to pay some individuals to do the job.

"We do pay, and a lot of those that we pay are actually working for their Christmas, and what they will provide for their children and stuff, but we could save a whole lot of money. I've told our board that if we had all volunteers we would save $25,000 to $30,000 a year."

From now until Christmas Eve volunteer bell-ringers are needed for each Monday through Saturday. To volunteer you can go by the Salvation Army office which is located off B-Street in Meridian or call it at 601-483-6156.

The goal for this year's local Kettle Campaign is to raise $115,000. As of Tuesday the agency had raised $47,000. The donations are used to fund services that are provided by the local Salvation Army throughout the year.