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Salvation Army organizations kick off red kettle campaigns

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The north country soon will see red kettles to collect money for Salvation Army programs, but volunteers are needed to oversee the stands.

Watertown Salvation Army Lt. Zeb Hough and his wife, Lt. Summer Hough, said that while some volunteers remain dedicated to the cause each year, others have schedule conflicts or cannot help for other reasons. Lt. Zeb Hough said more help is needed to collect more funds for needy north country families.

“We have 12 bell ringers that stand from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.,” said Joshua R. Sherriff, Watertown Salvation Army kettle coordinator. “We like to catch people before and after work.”

Mr. Hough said the time volunteers are most needed is any weekday. The campaign does not run on Sundays.

The Watertown Salvation Army’s campaign kicks off Sunday at the agency, 723 State St., during its annual pancake/French toast breakfast. There will be 17 standing kettles from Monday to Dec. 24 at the Watertown Big M at the Washington Street plaza, Walmart on Route 3 and in the town of LeRay, Gander Mountain, Great American, Kmart, Tops, Price Chopper, Salmon Run Mall, Big Lots and area Walgreens and Kinney Drugs locations.

Mr. Hough said he hopes to raise $185,000 between the agency’s red kettle campaign and the upcoming Old Newsboys Day fundraiser, held in conjunction with the Watertown Daily Times, for year-round programming.

At the Massena Salvation Army center, Lt. Cynthia Crowsen said she hopes to collect $66,000 through the red kettle campaign.

“We believe our community can support that,” she said. “Whatever’s donated stays local and it supports everyone in need.”

Red kettle stands will be at the Massena Walmart, Price Chopper and St. Lawrence Centre mall from Sunday to Dec. 24. While funds also go to year-round programming for the Massena Salvation Army, Lt. Crowsen said, the agency is busy trying to finish a construction project to better serve the community.

“We are in the process of building a permanent location,” she said. “We’re currently renting space and getting architectural plans now for a center and church on Victory Road in Massena. We own the land still. The building had several structural issues before and had to be demolished.”

To make sure there are enough funds for Salvation Army programs and services in Massena, it’s important for the agency to have volunteers at kettles, Lt. Crowsen said. The fewer paid bell ringers, the more money can go back to the agency’s neediest clients.

In Ogdensburg, Salvation Army Capt. Timothy A. Shaffer agreed.

“We ask people to do four-hour shifts,” he said. “We do have to pay kettle workers, but I want to get as much back in the community as I can and that means volunteers are important to us.”

Red kettles are set up in the Ogdensburg area at Peebles, Save-a-Lot, Walgreens, Kinney Drugs and Price Chopper. Kettles will be set up at Walmart beginning Nov. 23.

Capt. Shaffer said more people are seeking aid from the Salvation Army, because although jobs are being created, “it’s not at the pace people want done.” The agency even ran out of food for its pantry in August, when the need was greatest, and about 100 people already have applied for the agency’s Christmas assistance program.

“We’re working on a soup kitchen to offset stress on the food pantry,” he said. “We’re finishing up construction and then waiting to get it certified, and I’m thinking it’ll start in January.”

Capt. Shaffer said his goal is to raise $45,000.

Volunteer bell ringers are being sought for shifts Mondays to Saturdays until Dec. 24 for all Salvation Army organizations. People or community organizations interested in volunteering should call Lts. Hough at 782-4470, Capt. Shaffer at 393-3351 or Lt. Crowsen at 769-5154.

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