By BRIAN GRAVES
Being a bell ringer for the Salvation Army can make you a star.If not literally, in the eyes and hearts of those whose lives can be changed by the money you help raise.The local Salvation Army is on …
Being a bell ringer for the Salvation Army can make you a star.
If not literally, in the eyes and hearts of those whose lives can be changed by the money you help raise.
The local Salvation Army is on the hunt once again for those who want to help a good cause and perhaps have a little fun at the same time.
Cleveland and Bradley County certainly responds to the efforts, and did so in grand fashion last year.
"This community always goes above and beyond," said SA Administrator Ruthie Forgey. "Last year, we did around $111,000 and we would like to exceed that this year because there is a lot of need. We have need that walks through our doors every day. Need knows no season."
"The kettles will go out on Nov. 17," Forgey said. "On Nov. 16, we will have our 'Kettle Kickoff' at Bradley Square Mall that evening. It will begin at 6 p.m."
She said being a kettle coordinator was the way she came into the Salvation Army.
"I love it," she said. "They have been around since the late 1800s. They are iconic. People know when they see a kettle that Christmas is coming."
Forgey said the "kickoff" will feature the Tennessee Preparatory Christian School choir and the Prospect Elementary School Choir.
"Mayor (Tom) Rowland has traditionally tossed the first dollar into the kettle to start our drive," she said. "This is a big, fun time."
Last season was a spectacular one to say the lease for the kettle drive.
The dancing contests between area public services entities became the hit of the season, and made an internet star of Cleveland Police Officer Sean Bulow.
"I remember Evie West, CPD public information officer, said, 'I'm going to get them to dance,'" Forgey recalled. "She cranked the music up — that was his 15-minutes of fame and hopefully he'll be back out there this year."
"That was insane," she said. "I came in one morning and our receptionist said, 'Good Morning America' is on the phone and they want to talk to you. They asked some questions and it went international."
"I hope to have that going again this year," Forgey said. "We have the trophies ready and I have reached out to them."
Forgey said what she tries to do is to recruit kettle captains.
"I would assign you a location for the day, then you would get some of your friends and schedule what blocks of time they can man the kettle," she said. "I have people come back to me every year now who want to be kettle captains because their friends have made it part of their tradition to ring a bell. It teaches their kids to serve the community. They have a great time."
Forgey said if corporations or businesses want to take part, they will be accompanied at their post with a special sign saying by whom the kettle is sponsored.
"A bell in my hand is just a bell," she said. "But, a bell in the hand of a volunteer is a hot meal for someone who is hungry and a warm blanket for somebody who is cold."
Anyone who wants to volunteer can call Forgey at 423-304-9281.
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