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Bell ringers needed as kettle campaigns near goals

Rich Escutia has been bell ringing this year at the South Side Kroger in Ottawa on weekdays since Thanksgiving. The Ottawa Salvation Army reports its roughly 75 percent of the way toward its goal, but volunteers still are needed to keep kettles active.
Rich Escutia has been bell ringing this year at the South Side Kroger in Ottawa on weekdays since Thanksgiving. The Ottawa Salvation Army reports its roughly 75 percent of the way toward its goal, but volunteers still are needed to keep kettles active.

The Salvation Army Red Kettle campaign ends one day early this year, but officials in Ottawa and Streator are optimistic they can reach their goals, with a little more help from bell-ringing volunteers.

Since Christmas Eve falls on a Sunday this year, the campaign will end Saturday, Dec. 23.

Major Connie Shaw, of the Ottawa Salvation Army Corps, noted as of Saturday, the agency is 75 percent to its goal of $70,000. The Salvation Army also raises money for La Salle-Peru.

"If we can keep our locations manned we may make it, but it’s hard to get people to ring on Saturdays," she said. "So yes we can use more volunteers."

Volunteers are needed 10 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. at Handy Foods, both Kroger locations, both Walmart entrances and Walgreens in Ottawa; and at both Walmart entrances, HyVee, Rural King and Hobby Lobby in Peru. They are asked to work two-hour shifts. Those interested in volunteering should call 815-433-3817.

Shaw said while Ottawa hasn't received a gold coin this year, as it has in years past, it has received a 2016 Liberty Silver Dollar, which she has not had appraised yet.

"We're doing a little better than last year," Shaw said.

The organization also is gearing up for its Angel Tree distribution of food baskets and toys Wednesday and Thursday.

In Streator, service center director Judy Booze is happy about the gold coin valued at $325 that was dropped in a kettle earlier this season. She has since learned she will be getting another boost to Streator's $40,000 goal.

"I'm having another boost on the 20th," Booze said. "Kroger is putting a $1,000 check in the kettle. Every year they draw a store to give a check to. We had been drawn several years ago, so I thought what are the chances of that happening again, but they picked us again this year."

Through Saturday, Streator's total is $32,505, but Booze has not counted Sunday, which she said was a "good day."

Booze has faith in the community, as nearly every year they come through to meet the agency's goal, which is the major fundraiser for the year.

"Streator is a really giving community, so yes, I'm optimistic, but it's close," she said.

She noted bell ringers are needed to pull Streator through the final stretch. Indoor ringing opportunities are available at Kroger, Big R and Walmart and an outdoor opportunity is available at Walgreens.

Those interested in volunteering can call the Salvation Army at 815-672-2746.

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