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Ringing bells during pandemic

Salvation Army organizers say it’s more important than ever to donate

Photo by Deb Gau Dick Richards and Deloris Richards helped set up Salvation Army red kettles at locations including Hy-Vee and Perkins in Marshall on Friday. The local kettle campaign began Friday and will continue through Dec. 31.

MARSHALL — The COVID-19 pandemic is changing many holiday traditions this year, and members of the Lyon County chapter of the Salvation Army say it’s affecting their organization in a couple different ways.

For one, there’s more need in the community for the funds raised by the annual kettle campaign. At the same time, fewer area volunteers are able to ring bells due to health concerns.

“It’s going both ways,” said Dennis Ozmun, one of the local organizers who schedules bell-ringers each year. While there have been some volunteers who signed up, others didn’t feel comfortable. “We want people to stay safe, that’s the important thing.”

Organizers said people can still donate to the campaign, which will be important as area residents deal with the economic impacts of COVID-19.

The Lyon County Salvation Army kettle campaign kicked off Friday, and will run through Dec. 31.

“Eighty-eight percent of the money we collect stays right here in Lyon County,” organizer Deloris Richards said. The funds go to help offer emergency assistance for area residents, through United Community Action Partnership, she said.

Unfortunately, the pandemic has put more people in need this year, organizers said. It will make the fundraising aspect of the kettle campaign even more important.

“It’s going to be a tight year. Because of COVID, our funds our depleting rapidly,” Ozmun said.

Organizers said bell-ringing time slots are available at Hy-Vee, Runnings and Ace Home and Hardware in Marshall. Time slots run from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m., Mondays through Saturdays. In addition, there will be donation kettles at other locations around Lyon County. Richards said there will be kettles for donations at the Hitching Post and Perkins in Marshall, as well as small countertop kettles at other businesses.

While they understood that not everyone may be willing to be a bell-ringer, organizers are still trying to find volunteers.

“This year, we’re trying to get more groups to do this,” Richards said.

A group or organization can “adopt a day” to have volunteers ringing bells. In past years, groups ranging from area Realtors to the Marshall girls hockey program signed up for a day.

For more information on Lyon County Salvation Army, to sign up to ring bells, or to make a donation, people can contact Deloris Richards at 507-532-2038 or Dennis Ozmun at 507-829-8978.

Ringing bells during pandemic

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