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Salvation Army needs bell ringers

With only four weekends between Thanksgiving and Christmas this year, the Hubbard County Salvation Army is ramping up its campaign early.

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The Salvation Army needs volunteers to help make their annual red kettle campaign a success. Eric Olson (right) was one of the past volunteers. He is pictured with kettle drive coordinator on Eric Haugland. Contributed/ Salvation Army.

“I've just started and have gotten a good response from past ringers to ring again this year,” kettle drive coordinator Eric Haugland said. “The Park Rapids Fire Department, banks, realtors, church groups, lake associations, Itascatur, North Country Trail Association and families have already signed up. But we still have slots that are open every day. We especially need ringers Thanksgiving weekend, when many people are traveling out of town. That’s the hardest to fill, along with Dec. 17-18 because it’s the week before Christmas.”

Ringers can sign up for an hour or to two-and-a-half hours. Some ringers are outside, while at other locations ringers are inside the store.

Musicians who are willing to provide entertainment at the donation site are also welcome.

“We’ve had the high school choir sing in the past, and a guy who played guitar and sang Christmas songs in the past, too,” he said.

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Funds raised through the red kettle drive are used in the county for crisis situations when urgently needed for shelter, utilities, food, clothing and transportation.

Those in need in the county are referred to the Salvation Army by social service workers.

“Maybe it’s someone whose house burned, or they are low income and have car trouble and can’t get to work,” he said. “The Salvation Army can help with car repairs, vouchers to get gas, things like that.”

Haugland said that last year, due to COVID-19, there were not as many civic organizations participating in the red kettle drive so the Salvation Army relied more on families and friends.

“With the community’s help we raised $24,177, a 38% increase from 2019's collection of $17,673,” he said. “Park Rapids is known to be a great supporter of the Salvation Army kettle drive throughout the state.”

The Hubbard County kettle drive will kick off on Nov. 26, the Friday after Thanksgiving, and continue on Fridays and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. through Dec. 18.

Participating businesses include Coborn's Grocery, Cwikla Ace Hardware, Hugo's Family Marketplace, L&M Supply, Walmart Supercenter and Walgreens Pharmacy.

Checks written to the Hubbard County Salvation Army can be mailed to Citizens National Bank, P.O. Box 231, Park Rapids, MN 56470.

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If interested in volunteering, call Haugland at 218-252-7151 (cell) or 218-732-3910 (home), or email erichaugland@yahoo.com.

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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