Atlanta launches early Red Kettle recruiting drive
By: David Ibata
Christmas came in July to the metro Atlanta, Georgia, area as The Salvation Army launched “Ring for a Change,” a promotion seeking to boost participation by businesses, groups and organizations as volunteer bell ringers in this year’s Red Kettle Campaign.
“Bell ringing is not only a tradition, but a necessity,” said Major Bob Parker, Metro Atlanta area commander. “Without red kettles, bell ringers and help from our local community, The Salvation Army would not have the capacity to help those in need year-round.”
The Army typically places kettles at up to 400 locations around the Atlanta area; but it was able to cover only a third of that number in the 2017 holiday season because of a shortage of volunteers.
Recruiting bell ringers has been – and will continue to be – an important responsibility of corps officers.
“I’m just helping them,” said Donna Roper, the Atlanta command’s recently appointed red kettle volunteer coordinator, “with more of a focus outside the traditional kettle season. We’ve never done anything like this where we’re actively pursuing (volunteers) this early.”
Participation has fallen off gradually over the last two to three years, she said. Because of the improving economy, the pool of people seeking seasonal employment as bell ringers has been shrinking.
“Our goal this year is to get out at least 40 to 50 percent of our kettles,” Roper said. “We definitely want to see an increase in the number of ringing days, cumulatively, when you take into account all locations.”
Roper is looking for groups willing to commit to one location for at least a day (three days or a week would be even better). “That’s 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., with two to three people per two-hour shift. So you can staff an entire day with 10 people.”
Emails have gone out to companies, churches, schools and social and civic groups. Gas South, Chick-fil-A, SunTrust and Primerica have signed on as corporate sponsors. Georgia Tech is aboard as an institutional participant, and Boy Scout and Girl Scout troops have signed up as well.
The metro Atlanta command last year provided more than 144,000 nights of shelter and served 157,000 meals, impacting the lives of more than 57,000 people.
“We have seen people are giving,” Roper said. “We just want to give them more opportunities.”