NEWTON — Wendy Basye, director of the Salvation Army of Harvey County, is thankful for what happened over the weekend, and looking forward to more.
Bell ringers, symbols of the holiday season as they raise funds for the Salvation Army through its annual kettle campaign, were able to get an early start. Two sets of ringers on Saturday were in front of Walmart — a departure from earlier policy.
"Usually we are only able to ring the day after Thanksgiving, but because it is so short they are letting us start (early). Dillons, we will start the 27th. We are excited with that."
The local Salvation Army office, located on W. Sixth in Newton, has been dealing with the pandemic. More people are in need of help as the result of job losses and/or furloughs, as companies have attempted to navigate health orders designed to slow the spread of COVID-19.
It is unclear how the pandemic might affect the red kettle campaign, an effort on which the Salvation Army has put a conservative goal for this year.
The hope is volunteers can raise $40,000 for the local Salvation Army office. The campaign has hit $50,000 in the past.
"We don’t know how COVID will affect us," Bayse said. "We do have a ’Rescue Christmas Scanner’ we can give this year. You can scan the code (on a smartphone) put in (67114) if they want to donate to our kettles."
That Rescue Christmas Scanner is a filer with a QR code that can be used to give online.
Funds raised in the kettle campaign stay local — funding Christmas programs, school supply programs, the food bank and more.
"It is help in the community, and our events like our Christmas program and, if need be, school supplies," Bayse said. "It goes back to the community."
This year, the Salvation Army of Harvey County will be helping about 200 families with Christmas — 59 with food boxes for the holiday and 141 with gifts for children.
Distribution will be at the beginning of December, with a planned second round for families who may not have gotten applications filled out on time for the program.
The bell-ringing campaign, which will be active from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays until Dec. 24, does need some help if it is to fill all those hours.
"We are in need of volunteers. If anyone wants to volunteer, or has community service hours to fill, we can help them," Bayse said. "If they want to call and make contact with me or Latisha Butler, our kettle coordinator, we will get them penciled in, even if it is for just an hour or two."