WILLIAMSON - The sounds of the holiday season will soon be penetrating the air, chiming their way into everyone’s head.
But for that to happen, there have to be bell ringers.
The Salvation Army will begin taking applications for bell ringers this Friday, Nov. 11, and next Friday, Nov. 18, for the position.
Margaret Dingess, bookkeeper for the Salvation Army, told the Daily News that prospective ringers need to bring a state-issued photo identification, as well as their social security card, to 108 Pike St. in Williamson. There, those interested in being a bell ringer will fill out an application. Dingess said there was no need to bring a resume.
The position of bell ringer is a paid one, but Dingess said that volunteers were welcomed and encouraged.
“We’ll be ringing from Nov. 14 until Christmas Eve,” Dingess said. “There is no ringing on Sundays.”
This time of the year is called “Kettle Season,” Dingess said, denoted by the fact that donations are dropped into kettles located virtually everywhere.
The hours for paid ringers are from 10 a.m. until 7 p.m. However, volunteers “can have scheduled hours,” Dingess said, allowing for flexible times for those performing this deed out of natural kindness. Payment was not discussed with the Daily News, but was briefly mentioned.
“This (Kettle Season) provides food for the needy in the community,” Dingess said. “It also provides individuals with extra money for the holidays and a way volunteers can give back to the community.”
According to the Salvation Army’s website, the Red Kettle’s career as a fundraiser began in 1891, when Captain Joseph McFee, a Salvation Army officer, resolved to provide a free Christmas dinner to the poor of San Francisco.
From his days as a sailor in Liverpool, England, the captain remembered a large pot displayed. Those who passed by the pot tossed money into it.
McFee would late receive permission from city authorities to place a crab pot and tripod at the Oakland ferry landing at the foot of San Francisco’s Market Place. The kettle drew the of attention from ferry passengers and thus the tradition spread worldwide.
The money raised from donations, Dingess said, goes toward three programs: Christmas food baskets, an Angel Christmas Tree and Winter Release.
The Salvation Army, Dingess said, took applications from needy families from around the area with children ages 12 and under. The names of those children will be placed on an Angel Christmas Tree.
“The public purchases winter clothing and Christmas presents for those children,” Dingess said, referring to the donations.
“Any name still on the tree will receive gifts from the Salvation Army,” Dingess said. “We make sure that every child will receive something on Christmas day.”
The Winter Release program provides food for a pantry in Williamson, Dingess said.
But as of now, the Salvation Army does not have enough bell ringers to make Christmas come true for every child and family in need, she said.
“This is the time of the year when you see how much people care about their neighbors and community,” Dingess said. “We’re happy we’re able to have these (Kettle Seasons).”
The kettles have changed since that crab pot in San Francisco, the Salvation Army’s website stated. Currently, some kettles have devices as a self-ringing bell, a booth with a system that broadcasts Christmas carols and some have a capability to accept credit card donations.
“Any amount counts,” Dingess said. “It all adds up.”
A “healthy” kettle can generate as much as $450.00 on a given day. However, some kettles can raise as much as $1,200.00 especially if that kettle is being staffed by a group of volunteers, the Salvation Army’s website stated.
“We help facilitate neighbors helping each other,” Dingess said.