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Carroll County Times
Carroll County News

More red kettle bell ringers needed for Salvation Army of Carroll County’s Christmas fundraising efforts

You know it’s the holiday season when you hear a familiar ringing of the bell and coins and dollars being dropped into the Salvation Army’s iconic red kettles. But the bells aren’t ringing quite as loud in Carroll County this year.

With Thanksgiving finished and the holiday shopping season in full swing, the Salvation Army of Carroll County has found itself without enough bell ringers to man the red kettles.

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“It’s terrible, really,” said Alma Balsamo, manager of the county’s Salvation Army. “We’re really off to a terrible start. There’s just not enough ringers.”

The organization currently has seven bell ringers. Of those, two work part-time.

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“We could have 12 to 14 bell ringers,” Balsamo said. “That would be amazing. That way we wouldn’t work people to death.”

A few of the bell ringers do it on a volunteer basis, while others are paid $13 per hour.

As of Tuesday, the nonprofit had collected $16,000, Balsamo said. Its goal is to collect $75,000 by Christmas Eve, the last day the red kettles will be out. In 2021, the goal was to raise $90,000, but the group collected about $80,000. So, the organization lowered its goal this year.

“It’s our goal, but I doubt that it will happen,” Balsamo said.

The money raised will be used for the nonprofit’s expenses, including the purchase of a new washer and dryer for the Westminster headquarters. The appliances would be available for low-income residents and those who are homeless and have no other means to clean their clothing.

The money collected will also help the Salvation Army continue to provide programs for low-income families in Carroll County. These include the Brass Hat Café, a soup kitchen that provides free meals, and Camp Happyland, a summer camp for children and teens.

The red kettles are located throughout Carroll County, including at Safeway stores in Westminster, Mount Airy and Eldersburg, Walmart stores in Mount Airy, Hampstead and Westminster, and at the Giant and Boscov’s in Westminster.

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Because of a lack of bell ringers, the red kettles cannot always be found at these locations, Balsamo said.

“We thank all that have been bell ringers,” she said. “We are really grateful.”

For more information on volunteering with the Salvation Army serving Carroll County, call 410-876-9358. The nonprofit is located at 300 Hahn Road in Westminster.

Angel Trees program benefits more than 1,300

The Salvation Army provides another way for people to donate this holiday season through its Angel Tree program.

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The program provides free gifts to children on Christmas morning. Once a child has been registered as an angel, a toy wish list is shared with donors in the area so the child can receive those items as presents.

The process in Carroll County for this year’s giveaway started weeks ago, when families signed up for help by listing their income level and number of children who need toys and other items.

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According to Andrea Gill, a social worker with the Salvation Army, as of Tuesday the list of Angel Tree recipients was 1,327, and all children who asked for presents will receive them this year.

“I’m happy to say that everybody has been adopted,” Gill said. “It’s really been great. They’ve all been served. We have guaranteed that each child will get three items.”


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