You can ring the bell

Published 10:55 pm Saturday, November 19, 2011

The Suffolk Salvation Army is looking for people to help make a difference this Christmas season.

The group is seeking volunteer bell-ringers to work at retail outlets in the coming weeks and entice shoppers to give up their spare change to make another family’s Christmas bright.

“Right now, we’re having to pay a lot of people,” said Major Cal Clatterbuck of the Suffolk Salvation Army. “It’s taking a lot of what we’re raising to help people just to raise the money.”

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Clatterbuck said that although many community groups, including Rotary, Ruritan and Kiwanis clubs, routinely help out, there still is a shortage of volunteers this year.

“We don’t have a lot of people helping us do this project this Christmas,” Clatterbuck said.

The community need is dire this year. Already more than 700 families in Suffolk are approved for Christmas assistance.

“We’ll probably end up with over a thousand families. We haven’t even totaled Isle of Wight, Franklin, Southampton and part of Surry,” Clatterbuck said. “We’re having a tremendous amount of people coming to us this year because of the economy. People are out of work.”

In addition to helping families have a joyful Christmas, the organization also provides daily community support.

“We help people with utilities. We help people with rent. We feed people. There’s not a day that goes by when there’s not some food leaving this building.”

Clatterbuck said bell-ringer volunteers simply stand beside the traditional red kettle, ring the bell and greet people. Hours for the kettle are typically 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Most people take five-hour shifts, but “we can work with anybody that wants to help us out,” Clatterbuck said.

“What’s in it for them is making a contribution to the community by helping other people,” he said. “Their contribution is giving us time. That saves us a lot of money from paying someone else.”

For more information on becoming a bell-ringer, call the organization’s Bank Street office at 539-5201.