Ringing in the holidays | PostIndependent.com

Ringing in the holidays

Phillip Yates
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Kelley Cox Post Independent

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado ” The bells are ringing in the holidays.

But they’re also calling out for help to provide for the area’s needy.

A day after Thanksgiving, the Salvation Army kicked off its Red Kettle campaign and all the bell ringing that comes with it.

The group’s efforts this year come at a time when changing economic conditions are causing significant problems for area residents.

“We are just in a crisis situation here,” said Stacie Durrett, the operating manager for the area Salvation Army, which covers an area from Aspen to Parachute. “We are just getting inundated with requests. It is a really difficult time. I am just getting the same story over and over again. ‘I lost my job. I can’t pay my rent. I can’t pay my utilities. I am looking for work.'”

Usually, about 100 people visited her office each month to seek help. But one morning in November, there were 40 people lined at the local Salvation Army looking for assistance, Durrett said.

“It as bad as I have seen in Glenwood,” Durrett said.

Durrett said every kind of person is seeking help this year.

“Some people are professional people. Some are service people. Some are working construction,” Durrett said. “It seems to cross all income levels. we are seeing people that have never had to ask help before. it is difficult for them to ask in the first place.

And when you aren’t able to help it is even more difficult.”

All donations thrown into the group’s red kettles will remain at the local level, helping to support the Glenwood Springs Salvation Army’s InterValley Service Center, Durrett said.

Steve Randol, who has been the area kettle coordinator for the last 10 years, said there are 14 kettle sites in locations stretching from Battlement Mesa to Aspen. He said a kettle in Battlement Mesa had collected about $1,000 in three days after Thanksgiving.

“This year, the economy is down a little bit,” Randol said. “Sometimes when the economy is down, the kettle grows.”

The amount the Salvation Army has collected from its kettles in the area has soared over the last 10 years, Randol said.

In 1998, just about $10,000 was collected. Ten years later, the total figure topped $74,259 ” a record for the area and the largest amount collected by a Salvation Army service extension unit in Colorado.

Most of the money collected will help pay for the group’s local emergency aid budget for 2009. Those services include rent assistance, eviction prevention, utility assistance, and helping to provide transportation, prescriptions and lodging.

Those who want to ring bells at one of the kettles can call the Salvation Army at 945-6976. Donations may also be sent to the Salvation Army, P.O. Box 2964, Glenwood Springs, 81602.

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