As holidays near, local Salvation Army faces volunteer shortage

Published: Nov. 17, 2021 at 5:32 PM EST
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - The Salvation Army’s yearly Christmas kick-off happened Wednesday at the Kroc Center.

They had live music and a whole series of Christmas events.

On Thursday, we’ll start hearing those red kettle bells ringing – but they won’t be on every corner. This year, they’re struggling with finding volunteers. If you’d like to volunteer, visit https://salvationarmyaugusta.org.

The kettle campaign has been a Christmas tradition in Augusta since 1910, helping the Salvation Army do its mission work. Last year, they raised $187,000 from bell ringing alone.

“Because this is the major fundraiser for the Salvation Army to take care of the Center of Hope to take care of those poor whom we serve and so it’s vital we have people out there ringing the bells,” said Joe Herzberg, human resources manager for the Salvation Army Augusta Area Command.

But this year, there’s a shortage of volunteers. The Salvation Army has 32 kettle locations and needs to fill 6,400 volunteer hours.

It’s not even halfway there.

“If we don’t have that, then we’re really having a tough time trying to cover those expenses because the needs are there,” he said.

Especially since the pandemic began.

“Great opportunity to have some fun and to get out there and you know with all the craziness going on this past couple of years to be able to say Merry Christmas and have people respond favorably so it’s a very cheerful time and at the same time we’re doing the most good as we say to help those whom we serve in Augusta,” said Herzberg.

And if you’re worried about having to dress up like Old Saint Nick you don’t have to but – “We have lots it’s almost like a competition though I’ll go out and say hello to the bell ringers and the volunteers they dress up for the occasion some of them sing some of them play musical instruments I mean it’s quite an interesting and fun experience,” he said.

Doing the most good in Augusta.

This holiday tradition has been an important staple in Augusta for more than 100 years. Back in 1918, the Augusta Chronicle published an article about a motorist who drove up on the Broad Street curb and knocked over Salvation Army’s collection pot spilling all the coins before leaving the scene. The headline for the article read “Christmas dinners for poor in gutter, when meanest man upset Salvation Army pot.” Quite the title – the meanest man. But it just shows how long the city has valued Salvation Army’s efforts.

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