Bell weather |

Bell weather

Amanda Holt MillerPost Independent Staff
Post Independent/Kelley CoxCarol Jean Ellis isn't shy about her age, 81, and she's not afraid of subfreezing temperatures as she rings the bell for Salvation Army donations in front of City Market in Glenwood Springs Sunday. Ellis has been a volunteer holiday bell ringer for the past five seasons.

Chuck Dixon pulled a fur hat down over his ears and tied the ends under his chin. With his coat zipped to the top and yellow gardening gloves to protect his hands from the below-freezing temperatures, Dixon smiled and rang a bell outside of the Wal-Mart Supercenter in Rifle Sunday.”People have been very generous and friendly,” Dixon said. “I’ve gotten quite a bit of money. I just wish it was a little warmer.”Dixon is one of more than 500 volunteers between Aspen and Parachute who are braving the elements to raise money for the Salvation Army this holiday season, said Steve Randol, who coordinates the kettle fundraiser.Bell ringers started their work the day after Thanksgiving, Randol said. And it’s too early to say how everyone is doing.

There are about 15 kettles throughout the Roaring Fork and Colorado River valleys. Each one raises significant funds for the Glenwood Springs service extension unit, which has an office in the basement of the Mennonite Church in Glenwood Springs, said Micaela Johns, the operations coordinator for the unit.”Most of our local budget comes from the kettles,” Johns said. “It’s very important. We apply for grants and get other gifts, but without the kettles we really wouldn’t be able to survive.”The Salvation Army bell ringers raise between $40,000 and $45,000 each year. Most of that money stays in the community, Johns said.It’s used for a variety of programs including rent eviction prevention, utility shut-off prevention, emergency lodging, emergency transportation and gas vouchers, among other things.”We’re really about helping people keep a job,” Randol said. “People should know that if they write a check and send it to Kiwanis International or some organization based in Denver, they’re sending that money out of the community. They could drop that same check in one of the kettles and it’ll stay right here to help people.”

Since the Salvation Army is a religious organization, 10 percent of the money the local service extensions raise is given as a tithe to the national group.In most cases, the volunteers are organized by local service groups. For example, Dixon is a member of the Rifle Rotary Club, which coordinates volunteers at Wal-Mart. In Parachute and Battlement Mesa, Grand Valley Kiwanis members man the station at City Market.The Kiwanis Club that operates the kettle at the Glenwood Springs City Market is relying heavily on volunteers from Glenwood Springs High School to help out. “Our little club certainly can’t do it all by ourselves,” said David Hostettler, who organizes volunteers for the club.His group only has a few members, and he said many of them are getting older and can’t spend so much time standing or out in the cold. He would like to see more people come out to volunteer.

Johns said, while service organizations do a good job of manning the kettles and collecting money, they could probably all use a little extra help. She suggests that anyone interested in helping out give her a call at the extension office.”You see a lot of people you know out here through the course of the day,” Dixon said. “It really renews your faith in man.”Contact Amanda Holt Miller: 625-3245, ext.

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