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Time to start seeing red

Salvation Army Red Kettle Bell Ringer Wayne Benson, right, has a laugh with Tom McCauley of Detroit Lakes as he makes a donation to the Red Kettle at Central Market Tuesday afternoon. Benson was volunteering through Noon Rotary. Photo by - Brian Basham1 / 2
Karen Lee Hill of San Antonio, Texas, drops a donation into a Salvation Army Red Kettle Tuesday. Hill said she likes giving to the Salvation Army, a great organization that helps so many people. Photo by - Brian Basham2 / 2

The season of giving is upon us -- and the Salvation Army is in need of some of that generosity.

The Red Kettle Campaign started a couple weeks ago, and only has a few weeks left to raise the thousands of dollars needed to continue programs for those in need in Becker County.

"All the money we earn stays in Becker County and we do a lot of special projects with that money," said Marcia Otte, who has served as secretary for the Becker County Red Kettle Campaign for 24 years.

"That's what's so cool and why I believe so strongly in Salvation Army because we purchase back-to-school supplies, we do our Christmas project, the diaper project with the food shelf. It's really neat where the money goes."

Last year more than $30,000 was raised, and organizers are hoping to reach that mark this year as well.

Red Kettles

"I think it's been a little bit slower, but it usually picks up now that we're in December," Otte said.

She said that the weekend before Thanksgiving was very successful at Central Market's kettle, with people out shopping for their feasts. But, Black Friday shoppers were there more for the deals than giving at the Walmart kettle, as that time period was pretty unsuccessful.

"On the average, it's about the same as last year, maybe a little less," she said of the overall totals raised thus far.

"Central Market is still, by far, our best location," she said.

Other locations around town include L&M Fleet and Supply, Washington Square Mall and Kmart.

New this year, the national Salvation Army organization offered to pay people to ring the bell outside Walmart this year.

Bell ringers are not allowed in the entryway of the store, so organizers find it more difficult to get people to sign up to ring outside in the cold.

This year a bell ringer was able to be paid $8.75 an hour for up to 20 hours a week to ring outside Walmart. One woman stepped up to take the shifts, making a little extra cash for herself and the Red Kettle Campaign.

"I think it's going to help us out," Otte said of raising more money in that location. It's a proven fact that people give to the manned kettles and rarely when there isn't someone ringing the bell.

"The Boy Scouts were there all day Saturday, and they did a wonderful job. (The kettle) was really, really full.

"If someone's at the kettles, we certainly see an increase in the donations. If someone's not there, we get nothing."

The Red Kettle Campaign goes through Christmas Eve, and there are still chances to volunteer your time and ring the bell. Call Marcia Otte for time slots available at 847-1385 or 847-1031.

Stuff a Truck

The Salvation Army and Walmart have paired for a national event called Stuff a Truck, and this year is the first year it will be happening in Detroit Lakes.

This Saturday, people will be handing out fliers at entrance to Walmart, asking customers to purchase a warm weather coat or a toy for a child in need.

A truck will be parked outside of Walmart to pick up the donation as they walk out the door. Customers will then be handed a receipt for the tax-deductible purchase.

"The gifts will be donated to Mahube. We have some children that didn't get their names on the trees around town. These gifts will help us supply their needs," Otte said.

The event will be from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Walmart this Saturday.

Follow Pippi Mayfield on Twitter at @PippiMayfield.