The Daily Southerner, Tarboro, NC

December 20, 2012

Bell Ringing donations down; ‘Needs may not be met’

Miranda Baines
Staff reporter

TARBORO — The Salvation Army is in the final days of its Red Kettle drive as it pleads with holiday shoppers to drop money into the kettles as they pass by.

“Hearing that bell ring, everybody, they know what it’s about,” said Libby Todd, volunteer coordinator for the bell ringers in Edgecombe County. The bell ringing is about helping people in need during the Christmas season of giving. This year, those needs might not be met, because donations are down this year.

“We’re behind from where we were last year at this point,” said Lt. Matt Trantham, Corps Officer for the Salvation Army of Edgecombe/ Nash Counties. “We started our season $7,000 behind. We’ve only been losing ground day after day since.”

As of Monday, the Salvation Army had raised $73,754 — aganst a goal of $104,000. Raising that much money in a week’s time is “almost an impossible feat,” Trantham said, unless there is a “huge outpouring” of support from the community.

Christmas Eve (Monday) is the last day of the kettle drive. Bell ringers will be at the Piggly Wiggly in Tarboro “all day” and at the Walmart in Tarboro from 9 a.m. until 8 p.m. at the latest, according to Trantham. Volunteers will stop ringing earlier in the evening if the Salvation Army reaches its kettle drive goal.

“We’re keeping our fingers crossed and hoping the people of Edgecombe County will come through for us,” Todd said.

Trantham attributed the decrease in donations this year to the colder weather, the late start at Walmart stores on Black Friday, and a lack of volunteers.

“It’s been harder to get volunteers and to fill all of the doors at every store,” the Corps officer said.

“I think one of the reasons why it [the number] is down in Tarboro is because we couldn’t start ringing until the day after Thanksgiving,” Todd said. “The Golden K usually starts the weekend before Thanksgiving. That’s a very busy time and we missed that traffic.”

The Golden K Kiwanis will have volunteer bell ringers at both entrances of Wal-Mart in Tarboro today, Friday and Saturday. Wednesday was the last day that Todd’s bell ringers manned the doors of the superstore. Despite the lagging donations, Todd said she has had “super success” from her 96 volunteers this year.

The Salvation Army provided assistance to 5,582 individuals in Edgecombe and Nash Counties  during its last fiscal year. The organization needs between $14,000 and $17,000 per month to provide its services – operating a thrift store in Rocky Mount and Tarboro, providing used clothing and furniture to victims of house fires, and offering rent/ utility assistance to those in need year round.

“Sometimes, we are their last hope,” Trantham said.