From now until Christmas Eve, a group of individuals are bearing a global pandemic and all types of weather, besides blizzards, to help others in need for the holidays. This year, the Salvation Army of Beatrice’s goal is to raise $60,000 through the Red Kettle Campaign to help local families get food, clothing and other assistance.
Colleen Lovett, administrative assistant for the Salvation Army, said that $60,000 goal will be harder to raise than last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“A lot of companies that we had our counter Red Kettles at are not allowing us to do it this year because of COVID and some changes in policies for them,” Lovett explained. “And a lot of places were restaurants that are not including dine-in, so we can’t have the kettles there if nobody is coming in to eat.”
The kettles are also at fewer locations than previous years.
Currently, there are kettles at Sun Mart Foods and Russ’s Market in eastern Beatrice. Lovett said starting Saturday, Nov. 21, there will be kettles at both entrances of Walmart in northern Beatrice, as well.
Lovett said current health restrictions include that volunteers can only ring in groups of two, and must step back from the kettle while an individual is donating to maintain social distance. She said volunteers must wear masks, and that the kettles are cleaned throughout the day.
“The best way for bell ringers is really based on personality, and how outgoing they are,” Lovett said. “They’re not allowed to ask for donations, but if they’re saying ‘Merry Christmas, good afternoon, welcome to Walmart’…The more outgoing and the more approachable they are, that’s how you’re going to get more donations.”
Individuals that don’t have cash or change to give at the kettles, or who are trying to stay home but would still like to donate, can go to giveredkettle.org to donate to Beatrice or another community.
Those wanting to volunteer as bell ringers can go to registertoring.com for more information. The website asks for the volunteer’s zip code, then shows the available shift dates and locations that can be reserved.
Bells will be ringing across town on Mondays through Saturdays from 11a.m.-7p.m. until Christmas Eve on Thursday, Dec. 24.
According to the campaign’s website, the red kettles started in 1891, when Salvation Army Captain Joseph McFee resolved to feed food insecure people in San Francisco for the holidays. When considering how to fund the meals, McFee remembered his sailor days in Liverpool, England, and how at Stage Landing, where the boats came in, there was a large, iron kettle called "Simpson's Pot" into which passers-by tossed a coin or two to help those in need.
McFee placed a similar pot at the Oakland Ferry Landing at the foot of Market Street, with a sign that read, "Keep the Pot Boiling", and was able to raise the money he needed.
The Salvation Army is still holding their Thanksgiving meal event this year, but it has also been modified due to COVID-19.
Lovett said the meal can’t be in person this year, but that people can reserve a meal for pick-up or delivery by calling 402-223-3341.
“We’re asking people to RSVP for the meal so we know we have enough, and that way we have enough people to deliver if need be,” Lovett said. “And if they wanted to volunteer, as well, they can just call that same number.”
Lovett said volunteers are currently planning to make roughly 250 meals of turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, corn, a roll and desert. The meal takes place on Thanksgiving Day, Thursday, Nov. 26, from 11:30a.m. to 1p.m.
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