MEDFORD, Ore.-- The red kettles are here.
On Friday, the Salvation Army officially kicked off this holiday season with its annual kettle bell fundraiser.
Until December 23rd - bell ringers will be stationed outside businesses asking for donations to help families in need.
The Salvation Army says on average, just 60 minutes of red kettle bell ringing can yield enough in donations to feed 13 people.
But this year the with fewer smiling faces ringing the bells, the Salvation Army is stepping up its recruiting.
Major Jason Koenig says, "When you have a bell ringer out there, that bell ringer is able to give a smile, wish them Merry Christmas, make the connection because this is all about connecting with people."
Banner Bank Volunteer John Miller says, "You know it makes a big difference to help out, it helps the holiday spirit, the holiday spirit is about giving back to the community and I believe it's important for people to give back and contribute if they can.”
Last year they had 30 bell ringers during the kick off.
This year’s kick off, in Jackson County, 18 bell ringers were hired for the kick off but only 10 showed up.
Major Jason Koenig says, "We could have at least 30 locations covered, unfortunately we don't have enough people, so like today we only have 12 locations that are covered because we're lacking in volunteers and lacking in paid bell ringers too."
Major Koenig says they're not only down in the number of bell ringers, but other challenges lie ahead this season.
Like Christmas Eve falling on a Sunday, usually their biggest donation day, except they don't ring the bells on Sundays.
He's hoping they'll be able to make up the difference.
He also is worried with the number of disasters we've had this year, more people that normally donate to the kettles may have donated to those disasters, which could mean less donations to the kettle drive.
Last year they were able to assist nearly 500 families with the kettle bell drive.
And many of the paid bell ringers receive assistance from the Salvation Army themselves, so the pay check and seasonal income can make a world of difference.
Major Jason Koenig says, "As they're able to share their stories, and hear other people's stories, that is what brings it back to the reality of the community helping the community."
- Salvation Army Says More Bell Ringers Needed
- Salvation Army bell ringer shares story
- UPDATE: Bell Ringers Stolen iPod Found
- Salvation Army needs donations, still needs thousands of dollars
- Salvation Army Kettle Drive Begins
- Salvation Army Offers Christmas Assistance
- Salvation Army kettling starts today
- Salvation Army rolls out annual red kettle bell-ringing campaign in Southern Oregon
- Salvation Army Needs More Donations to Meet Kettle Campaign Goal
- Salvation Army: Shortage of Toy Donations