Dec. 21, 2019 — The familiar ringing of bells near a bright red kettle reminds shoppers entering Fred Meyer and other area stores that there are neighbors that need a little help during the holidays.
The tradition of filling The Salvation Army’s red kettles is well established in the Florence area. This year, retired Col. Sam Spayd turned over primary responsibilities for the effort to Colinda Harris. Harris is a married veteran with grandchildren, and she assumes the leadership role in what is best described as well functioning unit.
“Last year, over 100 good people stood at our kettles, some for several two-hour shifts,” said Spayd, who was kettle coordinator for the past two years. “Our new kettle coordinator will need these folks and more to step up and serve again!”
Spayd agreed to lead the collection effort for the Red Kettle Campaign after concerns were raised regarding the distribution of the monies collected locally. There was a sense that not enough of the money collected locally was being distributed in Florence.
“Four years ago, when I first got involved in the Bell Ringing campaign, I received assurances from the Salvation Army that any funds raised in western Lane County would stay in western Lane County,” Spayd said. “Previously, the funds collected here were sent to Eugene and they determined where the ‘most need’ was and distributed the funds accordingly. Unfortunately, not much came ‘west of the tunnel’ (on Highway 126).”
Now, the questions surrounding the distribution of donations has been addressed and the decision on which organizations receive support is now made in a more regionally focused manner.
According to Spayd, “Your money raised here is distributed quietly to those in need in our community.”
This is done through The Salvation Army Service Extension Coordinator Debi Leighton, from Klamath Falls, who coordinates with several local pastors to interview and select recipients for distribution of the local fund’s money.
“Two years ago, an advisory group was created to identify local areas of need to The Salvation Army,” Spayd continued. “They meet occasionally with the Service Extension Coordinator. It is gratifying to know and trust that The Salvation Army will use these collected funds to the maximum benefit of our community.”
The first Red Kettle was set up in 1891. Since then, The Salvation Army’s donations are used year-round to provide food for the hungry, disaster relief, assistance for disabled people, outreach to elderly and ill people, shelter and necessities for the homeless and opportunities for underprivileged children.
The Salvation Army raised more than $142 million through its “Red Kettle” campaign last year and a total of $433 million through all forms of donations.
“The country faced many hardships during the last few months of 2018, with multiple natural disasters and an unsettled economy at year end,” said Lt. Col. Ward Matthews, community relations and development secretary for The Salvation Army’s National Headquarters. “We are so very grateful for the generosity of those who recognize the importance of helping our neighbors in need.”
Anyone interested in serving as a volunteer Red Kettle Bell Ringer should call Colinda Harris at 541-707-0920. Service organizations and churches can also contact Harris about special opportunities to contribute to the kettles or supplying volunteers.
Kettles are located at both entrances to Fred Meyer, Bi-Mart, Grocery Outlet and Safeway. There is also an additional “floater kettle” that is placed at various locations during special events.
Red Kettle checks can be mailed to The Salvation Army, P.O. Box 1041, Florence, OR 97439 and will be credited to the local campaign. All such donations received on or before Dec. 25 will be credited to this year’s campaign.