Bell Ringer Shortage

By: Landon Cassman Email
By: Landon Cassman Email

STATELINE (WIFR) -- The holiday season is filled will many traditions, including the Salvation Army's annual bell-ringing campaign, this year is a little different compared to last. The organization is losing volunteers.

Jennifer Wilson is signing up for a food basket and presents for her children on the last day of Salvation Army’s Christmas food box and toys drive.

The local single mother says the most important thing on her wish list this year is keeping the heat on through the winter.

"One year around, close to the winter time, my utilities got shut off, and they helped pay to get my utilities back on. So they helped so that we got heat for the winter,” said Wilson.

Winnebago County's Salvation Army bell ringing drive raises money for services that help families in similar situations, but this year, the campaign is down nearly $3,000 from last year, and fewer people are volunteering to ring those bells.

"The volunteer base is getting older and as it gets older, and we don't get the younger people coming through, the older ones, they just can't do what they used to do,” said Major Randy Hellstrom, Winnebago County Coordinator.

Steve Nailor says he and the other members of his church look forward to donating their time every year.

"It's certainly one of the easier things you can volunteer for, because it's usually, at least in our organization, our church, is a two hour shift. The fun thing about it is when you have folks come through the door you get to talk to about Christmas,” Nailor says.

The organizations says, every penny given throughout the season, could help keep the lights on for families like Wilson's.

Though the Salvation Army of Winnebago County is a little behind this year, they say they will be able to provide gifts and food baskets for everyone who registered this week.

The Belvidere location says they have a very similar situation. People just aren't coming out to volunteer like they used to.

However, in Freeport, they say they're actually doing better, partly because they've been planning this for five months and they hire people specially for the season.

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