Shortage of Salvation Army Bell Ringers

Posted at: 11/26/2012 7:24 PM
By: Dan Conradt

(ABC 6 NEWS) -- Some sounds just say 'holidays' ... Bing Crosby singing “White Christmas” and reindeer hooves up on the roof.

But this year, one of the traditional sounds of the holidays is unusually quiet.

“We're struggling a little bit to get volunteers," said Lt. David Amick at the Austin Salvation Army.

“I'd say about half. half are full. we need quite a few yet," said the Austin Army’s Kristine Maier.

The Austin Salvation Army has a $150,000 goal for this year's holiday appeal --- "About a quarter of our budget," Lt. David Amick explained – and a big part of that comes from the red kettles: “About 60-thousand."

But this year, bell-ringers are in short supply.

"We try to never leave a kettle unattended," Amick explained

So without a ringer, either the kettle is removed, or “We end up paying someone to sit there. It cuts into the profit, or I go out there and sit as well," said the Salvation Army’s Kristine Maier.

Bundled up against the cold, Laura Gladden was ringing a bell at a Salvation Army red kettle outside the Great Clips salon in Austin. It wasn’t her first time on the business end of a bell: "Every day Monday through Friday, from ten to two," she told us. “The money goes to help people in need and makes me feel good."

And she's passed that spirit on to her seven year old son, who's been part of Laura's bell-ringing since he was a year old.  "Every time we go to the store when I'm not bell-ringing I have to give money to bell ringers every time I see one."

But with a shortage of ringers so far this year, there are fewer red kettles to see

"It does concern me, yes,” the Army’s Krisin Maier said. “And that's why we need you to help us."

We’re hearing similar stories from Army chapters around the area. If you’d like to help meet the need and volunteer your time, contact the office nearest you.