More volunteers are needed to ring the bells for the Salvation Army’s Red Kettle campaign in Detroit Lakes. All money raised is used to help people in the community.

The annual campaign got off to a slow start last Monday, Nov. 15, because there are fewer volunteers than usual this year, said Michele Baker, treasurer for the Becker County Salvation Army and chairperson of the local Red Kettle campaign.

“We kind of got off to a slow start, because we were not able to get a whole lot of volunteers -- some of the groups that have typically filled some of the slots are not doing it,” for a variety of reasons, possibly including concerns over COVID-19, she said.

The campaign is usually lifted through a lot of help from service groups, church groups and businesses, and some of those traditional sources of manpower are not participating this year, she said.

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This season, volunteers are manning red kettles at Central market and L&M Fleet, and there is an unmanned kettle at the Washington Square Mall near La Barista, Baker said.

A lot of people prefer to drop currency, change or personal checks into kettles attended by bell-ringers -- perhaps for that human connection during the holiday season -- so those volunteer bell-ringers really help bring in the donations.

If individuals or groups are willing to volunteer to ring the bell, either indoors at Central Market, L&M Fleet, and the mall, or even outdoors at Walmart (which can be a big money-raiser for the local campaign), call Baker at 218-234-9414.

“Our community is just awesome, they have been year after year,” said Baker, who has been leading the local Red Kettle campaign for 35 years.

Money donated to the Red Kettle campaign is used locally throughout the year by the Salvation Army. (Tribune file photo)
Money donated to the Red Kettle campaign is used locally throughout the year by the Salvation Army. (Tribune file photo)

The goal for this year is $40,000, she said. Last year the campaign raised $38,000, which she thought was good considering the disruptions caused by the covid pandemic.

All money raised in Becker County stays in Becker County, and is used as last-ditch emergency help for people after a house fire or other family emergency. It also goes towards an annual local back-to-school project, providing backpacks and school supplies to kids who need them.

“The need has grown for a lot of people,” Baker said, adding that “we really appreciate the volunteers -- we could not do a successful campaign without all the volunteers.”