By Kim West
To Carol Brazier, it doesn’t matter if a donation is a handful of pocket change, a crumpled dollar bill or a personal check — it all adds up as the Salvation Army Red Kettle Campaign gets under way in Limestone County.
“The person giving puts the donation in the kettle, and usually it’s folded up and you don’t see it,” said Brazier, a member of the Salvation Army Decatur Corps support staff. “We treat everybody the same and tell them, ‘God bless you’ and ‘Have a good day.’
“This helps with Christmas assistance, the winter relief program and year-round operations.”
The Salvation Army Decatur Corps covers Limestone, Morgan and Lawrence counties, and the tri-county area raised $100,926 during last year’s campaign.
The five bell ringing locations in Athens — Walmart, Piggly Wiggly, Hometown Grocery and Kmart — are staffed primarily with hourly workers, but the Salvation Army is still seeking more volunteers.
The Athens campaign started Nov. 16 at four of the five locations, and bell ringers at both Walmart entrances will begin this Friday.
“We try to get as many volunteers as we can, and we supplement that with paid workers at minimum wage,” Brazier said. “Maybe because of the (cold) weather not as many people have responded as they usually do, but with Thanksgiving it’s come more to people’s minds — if some people see people ringing, they will start.”
Local volunteers already on board include the Pleasant Grove Church women’s mission, members of First United Methodist Church and an individual who rings every year, according to Brazier. She said school groups were sent a letter at the beginning of the school year listing different programs in need of volunteers.
Paid workers, who earn $7.25 an hour, start ringing the bell at 9 a.m. and finish their shift at 8 p.m. The 11-hour shift includes two breaks and time off for lunch. Volunteer shifts cover the same time frame, but they typically include more than one person during the shift.
“We are still taking applications (for paid workers),” Brazier said. “Sometimes we lose people if they’re not used to standing on their feet.”
Brazier said people in need of assistance locally are encouraged to visit The Salvation Army Thrift Store at 699 E. Hobbs St. in Athens.
“We took Christmas (assistance) applications in Limestone County at the thrift store this year for a week,” she said. “We’ve got about 50 more families this year than last year, and 249 total this year.
“During the year we have a caseworker at the thrift store, and if someone needs clothing or food assistance, they can speak to her Monday through Friday.”
For more information about assistance or volunteering with the Salvation Army, contact Brazier at 256-353-2822.