Posted at: 11/14/2013 6:36 PM
By: Dan Conradt
(ABC 6 NEWS) -- It's one of the sounds of the seasons.
Salvation Army bell ringers have already gone out in Rochester, and ringers in Austin and Albert Lea will join them over the next few days.
And they need your help to make it a successful season.
"Definitely need lots of bell ringers yet," said Kris Maier at the Austin Salvation Army.
It's a story we're hearing from Salvation Army offices around the area.
"We have 1,047 hours that still need to be filled," Kris Maier told us.
That's more than 60 percent of the total bell-ringer hours the Austin Salvation Army has available this year.
The Army in Albert Lea still needs to fill about 60 percent of its hours, and the Rochester Army has filled just over half of its available hours.
And if there aren't enough volunteers to fill the slots in Austin:
"We have to put paid bell ringers there or the kettle stays empty," Kris Maier told us. “It's been proven if you have someone at the kettle people will donate."
And Elaine Kitselman has been that “someone” for countless hours:
"Average was 4 hours a day times five days a week on the average since 1997 ... over 200 some hours a year," she explained. Elaine Kitselman is synonymous with the red kettles in Austin. Medical issues will keep her away this year ... but Tim Stadig will be there.
"I just see it as a way to help the community," he said. Tim Stadig will ring for the first time on Saturday, and says it's a way of giving back.
"There's a lot of people who need help, including myself and my family. We receive food assistance and they've helped us out tremendously."
“And remember,” long-time ringer Elaine Kitselman explained, “everything that goes in the kettle for Mower County stays in Mower County to help others in need all year round."
“For all our programs, for the food shelf, the community meal, the youth activities, rent, utility, prescriptions," added Austin Salvation Army volunteer coordinator Kris Maier.
To learn more about becoming a bell ringer, contact your local Salvation Army office, or check here.