Red kettles are out, but Salvation Army needs more volunteers

The Salvation Army’s annual Red Kettle campaign is in full swing in Venango County as volunteers are ringing bells to help their neighbors in need this holiday season.

People have been generous in their giving this year, so far, Major Tim Duperree said Thursday, but bell ringers are in short supply, he added.

Duperree and his wife, Jan, came to lead the Venango County Salvation Army Worship and Service Center several months ago,

“We’re so grateful for the churches, service clubs and individuals who have volunteered,” Duperree said. He added that he has about four regular volunteers who will be out in all weather.

“Our 2023 kettle goal is $55,000. We are at about 20% of our goal now,” Duperree said Thursday. In the first week, bell ringers raised $10,040, he added.

The red kettles will be out at businesses locally through Dec. 23, Duperree said.

The kettles will be at Walmart in Cranberry, Giant Eagle in Franklin and Oil City, Sanders Market in Franklin and the Cranberry Mall, Duperree said. He added that volunteers also ring bells in front of the Barrow-Civic Theatre in Franklin and other locations on occasion.

Volunteers from school and community groups and businesses also take time to ring bells for the Salvation Army. Thursday’s volunteers at Walmart were Farmers National Bank employees.

All the money raised during the 30-day kettle campaign will stay in Venango County, Duperree said.

“The contributions have been good, we just don’t have enough people (volunteering) on a consistent basis,” Duperree said. “The buckets going out are doing well, we need more bell ringers to meet our goals. We are so thankful for everyone who has contributed.”

“It was my initial impression and continued observation that people around here ringing bells are jovial,” Duperree said. He also added the adjectives “good spirited and generous.”

The tradition of the Salvation Army red kettles and bell ringers goes back well over 100 years as a part of fundraising during the Christmas season, Duperree said.

Applications for assistance with food and toys for children are on track to exceed last year’s applications, Duperree said.

Last year, the Venango County Salvation Army received more than 230 applications, and about the same number of applications have already been received this year, Duperree said.

The Salvation Army will continue to accept applications until its food and toys distribution Dec. 21.

People interested in volunteering as bell ringers can call the Salvation Army office in Oil City at (814) 677-4056.