Salvation Army Kettle Kick Off

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WEST MONROE, La. (KNOE) - The Salvation Army’s red kettles are officially out, and bell ringers are collecting for the holiday season. Thursday was the Kettle Kick-Off, letting the community know about eight bell ringers are at some locations in Monroe and West Monroe.

But come the day after Thanksgiving, around forty bell ringers will be in Northeast Louisiana at places like Brookshires, Walmart, Mac’s Fresh Market, Walgreens, Hobby Lobby and more.

Stevie Wilson says he’s been ringing the bell for six years and says it’s about putting a smile on people’s faces. "I'm always in that Christmas spirit, gotta put a smile on every one of those children's faces and put a smile on my daughter's face,” says Wilson. “I enjoy ringing the bell. I do it every year.”

The Salvation Army says this is the most important fundraiser of the year. “Our shelter, it probably costs us anywhere from 15-20 thousand dollars a month to run. You might be like, wow that's a lot of money, but you've got to think about all the things that are involved,” says Captain Jerry Casey of the Salvation Army Monroe Corps. “The employees, food, heat, air conditioning, bedding, cleaning supplies, water, I mean everything.”

The Salvation Army says the response this year has been tremendous. “Monday, I think it was, on the order of twelve or thirteen hundred dollars, about thirteen or fourteen hundred dollars the next day, yesterday was sixteen hundred almost seventeen hundred dollars,” says Richard Hooton, the Kettle Coordinator.

Captain Casey says he hopes to surpass what they raised last year. “$170,000 - that would be tremendous. Now that might be a little out of reach; I don’t know. Last year I think we raised around $165,000.” Casey says you can still be a sponsor for one of the red kettles, and for anyone who wants to volunteer ringing bells, just give them a call.

Bell ringers will be out in the community every day, except Sunday, from now until Christmas Eve.