Bell ringers

Steve and Jeannine Primmer and their daughter Addison collect donations for the Salvation Army Red Kettle campaign in 2019.

Piatt County shoppers are used to seeing bell ringers and red kettles outside area stores on Saturdays between Thanksgiving and Christmas. However, many people don’t know what happens to the funds that are raised. Eighty percent of the money raised is placed into an account which is available throughout the year to assist Piatt County residents with emergency and short term needs.

The funds can be used to pay housing, food, clothing, transportation or other expenses. The remaining 20 percent is used to support other regional Salvation Army programs which provide funding for shelter, food baskets, clothing, toys for tots and emergency disaster services.

During last year’s campaign, almost $5,000 was raised and 80 percent stayed local. Throughout 2020, Red Kettle funding has been used to provide assistance to Paitt County residents on 16 different occasions. And since our community provided such excellent support for bell ringing the organization was eligible for another $1,200 from Salvation Army’s regional office to support members of the county that were facing challenges related to COVID-19.

The need has continued to grow throughout the year as COVID-related job losses, missed days of work and rising health care costs have challenged members of our county. We anticipate that every dollar and cent raised during this year’s campaign will be needed for residents of Piatt County.

For the 2020 bell ringing campaign, the Salvation Army has guidelines in place, such as gloves, masks, hand sanitizer and social distancing expectations, to ensure that bell ringers and our donors can stay safe while supporting this important cause. Realizing that fewer shoppers are out and about, the Salvation Army is also working to spread the word about ways to support the Red Kettle from the safety of home.

Any donation received from a Piatt County zip code will be automatically added to the local 2020 account, regardless of whether folks send payment by mail (Piatt County Red Kettle, Crossroads Church, 1602 N. 1125 East Rd. Monticello, IL 61856) or submit their donations online using a credit card (https://donate.saheartland.org/Piatt).

Bell ringers are hopeful that these new giving options will be popular with potential donors and help us to raise funds to support the members of our county that are facing short-term emergencies.

County Market in Motnicello has been a long-time partner of the Red Kettle Campaign and has generously agreed to host ringers again this year. Tractor Supply Co. will be a second bell ringing site. Community members can find the kettles at County Market and Tractor Supply Co. between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. on Saturdays between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Experience shows that bell ringers draw positive attention and increase donations to the kettles, so we are hoping that members of our community will step up to volunteer again this year. In addition to the large kettles, be on the lookout for counter top kettles at various local businesses around Monticello as well.

The Piatt County Red Kettle Team has set a goal of collecting $5,000 this year. Members of a few area churches have been a tremendous help in creating this resource for the county. We are grateful for Open Hearts Foursquare Church, Calvary Baptist Church, Lodge Church of God, St. Philomena and Crossroads Church for their support of this project over the past several years.

We are hopeful that these and other area churches, community organizations, families and individuals will claim blocks of time and recruit volunteers to join in this effort. Interested parties should go to our Facebook page: Piatt County Red Kettle Campaign (https://www.facebook.com/pcredkettle) and click on the link to the Sign Up Genius. Alternatively, potential volunteers can contact pcredkettle@gmail.com to request more information.

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