Salvation Army bells are ding-ding-dinging outside local Walmarts and grocery stores, and the clink of change can be heard echoing in the awaiting red kettles.
Volunteers hope to collect enough money over the next month to fund the local nonprofit’s programs throughout the rest of the year. The Christmas red kettle campaign has been around for more than 100 years and is the Clovis Salvation Army’s main annual fundraiser.
Bell ringers are desperately needed.
Last year about $35,000 was collected in Christmas kettles throughout Clovis, but $18,000 was paid to temporary workers, said Clovis Corps Lt. Stacy Antonovich.
The nonprofit’s goal this year is to greatly reduce or eliminate the need to hire bell ringers.
“The more people we get to volunteer, the more the money helps those in need in our community,” Antonovich said.
All of the money collected in Clovis stays in Clovis to provide food, emergency financial assistance, and clothing and toys at Christmas to those in need, she said.
“It’s really critical so that we can continue to do things we need to do,” she said. “We have our Christmas distribution for toys for about 400 kids. It also helps fund our food pantry during the year, and we help between 250 and 400 individuals every week with food boxes, bread and produce.”
Collections began Friday and will continue through Christmas Eve.
Volunteers will set up their kettles and bells in front of at least five stores in Clovis: Walmart at 1185 Herndon Ave., Walmart at 323 W. Shaw Ave., Walmart Market at 1830 Shaw Ave., Kmart at 1075 Shaw Ave. and Save Mart at 1835 Herndon Ave. As of press time, the organization was waiting to hear back from Vons locations in Clovis.
Bell ringers collect funds from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday. They don’t collect on Sunday because it’s a day of worship, Antonovich said.
The local American Legion post and Clovis Rotary have already answered the call for volunteers, and individuals have offered to be in charge of coordinating bell ringers for an entire day at all locations, Antonovich said.
“We have some people who will take a two-hour shift, but what is really is beneficial is if a group or business steps forward and says ‘we’ll take this location for this day’ and then they can round up friends and family and cover it for the whole day. That makes it a whole lot easier,” Antonovich said.
Potential bell ringers should call (559) 298-6797 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule a location and time. Bell ringers under the age of 18 must be accompanied by a parent.