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Salvation Army needs bell ringers in Park Rapids

Soon Salvation Army bells will be ringing at participating Park Rapids businesses to help those in need in our community through the Red Kettle campaign.

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Cal and Alice Broughton were two of the bell ringers for the Salvation Army Red Kettle fundraiser in Park Rapids last year.
Contributed / Salvation Army
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Bell ringers are needed to sign up for shifts at stores in Park Rapids the weekends of Nov. 25 through Dec. 17.

Last year, over $19,000 was raised through the Red Kettle campaign. This year, with inflation at a 40-year high, Eric Haugland, who has coordinated the bell ringers for several years, said more families are likely to need help from the Salvation Army.

“Bell ringers are needed on Fridays and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 3 pm.,” he said. “Volunteers can sign up for the whole five-hour shift or for part of a shift. I've got three high school groups and the banks and credit union participating so far, but need many more ringers.”

Haugland said, in addition to organizations, individuals, families or church groups are welcome to sign up, too.

Some ringers come back year after year. “They say it’s such a good feeling that they get from helping,” he said. “Some people who make donations have told us how the Salvation Army helped them. Maybe it was 20 years ago, but now they want to help out.”

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Bill Meggers of Park Rapids has been ringing the bell in front of Coborn's grocery store for the past two years.

Meggers said when he was in his early 20s the Salvation Army helped him and his buddies out when they needed it. “We were riding the rails on freight trains out west around 50 years ago,” he said. “We didn’t have any food or any money. We jumped off the freight train in Council Bluffs, Iowa. There’s a Salvation Army there. They gave us a hot meal and let us sleep for the night there. They were there for me when nobody else was. Since then, I’ve always had a soft spot in my heart for the Salvation Army, and a great deal of gratitude, too. They are number one in my book. The money you give the Salvation Army goes to helping people.”

When it’s warm enough, Megger plays his guitar when he volunteers as a ringer. If it’s cold, he sings Christmas songs.

“One moment I’ll always remember is a little girl who was with her mom,” he said. “I sang ‘Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer’ and she started dancing along. Another time there was a guy who looked pretty grumpy or maybe he was just tired. I stopped singing and wished him a Merry Christmas. He got a big smile on his face, walked up and stuck a couple of bucks in the kettle. I’m there for three hours and sometimes I get cold but I don’t care because I’m having fun doing it.”
Sign up to ring by contacting Eric Haugland at 218-732-3910 or emailing erichaugland@yahoo.com.
If you are interested in donating, write a check to Hubbard County Salvation Army and send to Citizens National Bank, P.O. Box 231, Park Rapids, MN 56470.

RELATED COVERAGE:
The Park Rapids chapter of Minnesota Darkhouse & Angling Association also supports a spring children's fishing seminar and other causes out of proceeds of its annual celebration of spearfishing decoys.

Related Topics: SALVATION ARMYPARK RAPIDS
Lorie Skarpness has lived in the Park Rapids area since 1997 and has been writing for the Park Rapids Enterprise since 2017. She enjoys writing features about the people and wildlife who call the north woods home.
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