Jamie Larson and Serenity Kuntz

The local Salvation Army is enjoying an increase in one important area — the number of volunteers willing to ring the famous bells at stores.

Bob Burnison, who has been involved with the Salvation Army for 40 years, is very pleased with the response.

“This year, we have great volunteers,” Burnison said. “We’ve filled every shift. That’s probably a first for us.”

The bell ringers are located at Reynolds Market and Reese and Ray’s IGA from 4-6 p.m. on weekdays and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekends.

“The community has been very generous with their time,” Burnison said. “We want to thank both grocery stores for allowing us to be there.”

Burnison notes that Rita Jacobson of the RSVP program has done an excellent job of organizing the volunteers.

Participating groups have included Sidney High School FFA, Girl Scouts and school groups from Fairview. In addition, many individuals have been counted on to be bell ringers year after year.

“This year, a group that has really helped us has been the AmeriCorps workers,” Burnison said.

He added that bell ringers have reported that some parents have expressed interest in having themselves and their children volunteer in the future. Burnison said it’s possible that the program might expand in future years.

He noted that the local Salvation Army met its goal of bringing in $10,000 during last year’s holiday season. The goal is the same this time around.

“I think we’re on track to do that,” Burnison said.

Of the funds received, 90 percent stays in Richland County.

Donations to the Salvation Army help with things like emergency fuel, housing, partial rent and deposits for apartments. 

“We take it on a case-by-case basis and do what we can,” Burnison said.

He says there’s an increased need in the area.

“There seems to be a bigger need. We’ve seen more requests,” Burnison said. “It’s not leaps and bounds, but we’re getting more referrals than last year.”

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