OSWEGO, NY ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â‚¬Å“ The bells have been quiet for a while. But their melody will soon be ringing in another holiday season; reminding us of the need, right here in Oswego County.
Volunteer bellringers will be encouraging people to donate to the Salvation ArmyÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s Red Kettle Campaign.
The Red Kettle Campaign is an annual fundraising effort that raises money to help local families and individuals in times of need.
ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œWhether they need food from the food pantry or someone to guide them emotionally through hard times, we try to be there for them,ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â said Capt. Kenneth Hayes, commanding officer of The Oswego Salvation Army. ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œIt is our most important fundraising effort of the year. It helps not only with seasonal needs like food, toys and gifts for our nursing home residents, but throughout the year in a variety of Salvation Army services.ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â
The community has always turned out to help, year after year.
ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œThe great thing about this community is people always do what they can to help out others,” he said.
In recent years, the campaign has been hampered by the closing of some stores, such as Tops in 2005, where volunteers rang their bells.
ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œWe did all right last year,ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â Capt. Hayes said. ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œWe manage to hold our own.ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â
The Salvation Army hopes to raise $43,000 this season, a bit more than in 2006.
In 2005, the campaign raised about $37,442 ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â‚¬Å“ a little more than the approximately $36,959 in 2004.
The Red Kettles received about $35,000 in 2003, a little more than $36,000 in 2002 and about $34,200 in 2001.
Several area clubs, organizations and restaurants help out with the donations or volunteer their time, he noted.
ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œThere is more need in the Oswego area than most people would realize,ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â Capt. Hayes noted. ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œRent keeps going up, the cost of fuel keeps going up; many people are struggling to be able to buy food and pay their rent.ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â
People have to understand that the Red Kettle funds aren’t just for the holidays; they are used to help people in need 365 days a year, the captain pointed out.
To make a donation, or to volunteer a couple hours to ring a bell, contact the Salvation Army at 343-6491.