‘Kettle’ Call Goes Out to Salvation Army Volunteers
LOWELL -- The Salvation Army needs an army of bell ringers.
With red-kettle fundraising in Lowell down 30 percent compared to this time last year, officials are sounding the alarm on the immediate need for volunteers.
“Our volunteer numbers have been down,” Major Leo Lloyd of the Lowell Corps Community Center said on Tuesday. “We haven’t had as many people at the red kettles, so we would appreciate it if volunteers would come forward to ring the bell for an hour or two.”
A Sun reporter visited four red-kettle locations in Lowell and Tewksbury Tuesday afternoon, and no one was ringing the bell at any of the locations.
There are 15 red-kettle stands in the Lowell area, and only four volunteers were scheduled to ring the bell Tuesday evening. The most popular spots in the Lowell area for bell ringing are Market Baskets.
Salvation Army officials said red kettle donations are down in communities throughout the region -- potentially impacting the Army’s ability to serve all those in need.
Red kettle donations are a critical source of funding for the programs and services that help hundreds of thousands of children, families and seniors across Massachusetts throughout the year.
The Salvation Army set a $3.5 million fundraising goal for this year to help individuals and families across the state. With less than two weeks until Christmas, officials estimate they are down 13 percent statewide from this time last year.
Lowell is down 30 percent, Lawrence is down 36 percent, Malden is down 50 percent, and Plymouth is down 34 percent.
“With so many individuals and families in need, it is essential that we meet our Red Kettle Campaign goal this year,” Major David Davis, Massachusetts divisional commander, said in a statement. “Each year, the citizens of Massachusetts make it possible for us to help support those in need, we are asking that they give generously to ensure service delivery is maintained again this year.”
Donations to the Salvation Army help feed and house the homeless, rehabilitate lives lost to addiction, provide toys for children at Christmas, and ensure services are available for families following fires and other disasters.
Last year in Massachusetts, The Salvation Army provided more than 2.4 million meals, nearly 200,000 nights of shelter, more than 67,000 days of childcare, and 343,333 Christmas gifts for children.
In addition, The Salvation Army provided more than 114,000 opportunities for children and youth for camping experiences, after-school gatherings for tutoring, recreation, meals, and character-building programs.
“No matter where you are, times have been tough the last decade,” said Lloyd, of Lowell. “More and more people need services today.”
Bud Caulfield, Lowell’s former mayor, has been ringing the bell for The Salvation Army for years. There used to be many volunteers, he said, but that has fallen off this year.
“Many places don’t have anyone ringing the bell at all,” Caulfield said. “We need help. I’m begging that people come forward to ring the bell.”
To donate to The Salvation Army securely on your mobile device, text Kettle17 to: 41444.
To become a volunteer, call The Salvation Army of Lowell at 978-458-3396.
For more information about The Salvation Army of Massachusetts or to donate online, visit www.salvationarmyma.org .
Follow Rick Sobey on Twitter @rsobeyLSun.