By Michael Maresh
Journal Staff Writer
The local Salvation Army is still looking for residents who will spend two hours manning donation kettles outside Cortez businesses.
Mel Heath, who has either served as a bell ringer or the supervisor for them the past 19 years, said a total of 252 bell ringers are needed to fill the two-hour slots that run Friday through Sunday from now until Christmas.
The Salvation Army bell ringing volunteer program in Cortez was started 30 years ago by Charles Johnson, Heath said.
Heath said bell ringers will be at both doors at Walmart and City Market, while Walgreens will also have a bell ringer during the holiday season.
Bealls will also have a bell ringer for one day this season the Friday after Thanksgiving.
We ring Friday, Saturday and Sunday except for the week before Christmas when we ring extra days, Heath said, and estimated that the fundraiser brings in an average of $25,000 a year.
He said he remembers the $6,900 that was raised 19 years ago when the fundraiser only had one kettle at City Market.
He said the funds are used for people needing help after not receiving the assistance needed from other agencies if the need is genuine .
We never have enough (bell ringers). We always have spaces to fill when there are 252 slots we need, he said. We have the Thanksgiving weekend filled, and that is the hardest one to do due to people traveling.
He said there are a few ringers or 15 percent who will take on additional slots to help out the Salvation Army, and added that more than 252 volunteers will be needed.
Heath said there are always illnesses and other emergencies that prevent a ringer from showing at the designated time, so there needs to be others who can take the position without much notice.
Heath said the Salvation Army will take volunteers right up to the very end.
Heath said he is in charge of supervising all of the bell ringers in case something comes up, and added he also provides a short break for the volunteers during their two-hour shift.
He also said the residents of the county are pretty generous and thinks the busiest days for the bell ringers are the third weekend of December.
I think they are all good days. Heath said. If we make $10 it is a good day. All of our bell ringers are volunteers, including me.