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Let the bell ringing begin for Salvation Army drive

Cody Russel, 16, New Richmond, rang the Salvation Army bell in front of Family Fresh Market in New Richmond on Friday from noon to 5 p.m. He said it was pretty fun and he plans on doing it again.

Local chiropractor Jeffrey Mason wants to help the Salvation Army reach its goal of $120,000 this year ... through the sound of music.

Last year Mason searched the Internet "looking for a charity to really support." He was familiar with the Salvation Army's bell ringing campaign to raise money to help community members get through difficult times.

He'd always supported the Salvation Army's cause to help local people, but wanted his charity work to be something unique. So when he came across information about the Salvation Army's history of brass bands he was intrigued.

Before going into the sciences, Mason's childhood dream was to become a professional musician. Although he didn't go down the musical career path, his passion for music has never ceased.

After reading up on the Salvation Army's Brass Band, Mason was determined to start his own in the New Richmond area.

Last year Mason put together a small brass choir to play at his daughters piano recital, some of the musicians he played with also took an interest in starting a Salvation Army brass band.

So far, Mason has two trumpets, a baritone, trombone, tuba and french horn in his band.

If there are other musicians in the area that want to play, Mason thinks it would be great to have several different Salvation Army bands.

"The ideal thing would be to have 15 people who want to play, and we make three different groups and each take a weekend and play for a couple hours," Mason said.

To join the Salvation Army Band call Mason at 715-248-7980.

Once Mason gets all of his band members together, he hopes to be playing at area locations around mid-December.

Mason said people "might not see a lot of musicians in the community" and a Salvation Army band would not only bring the sound of cheerful music to the area but hopefully an increase in donations as well.

Mason hopes people seeing band members donate their time and talent will make the average passerby stop and donate.

 For those individuals not musically inclined, bell ringers are always needed.

Ringers needed

The Salvation Army understands that times are tough for everyone, but they hope people will give what they can to help our neighbors in need.

Salvation Army Volunteer Coordinator Lynn Berg wrote a Letter to the Editor in the Nov. 25 issue of the News asking for the communities help.

"Our current situation is grim. It will be no surprise, I'm sure, but this year we have seen an incredible increase in requests for assistance from families who were financially stable just a few years ago," Berg wrote.

More people have been approaching the Salvation Army for "emergency relief," Berg said.

As people lose their jobs or get less hours at work, many local families struggle to pay their bills and need help with energy, rent, food and transportation costs.

Berg said the Salvation Army can only help families in need if they have the funds to do so and the bell ringing campaign is a major source of that funding.

The Salvation Army needs ringers six days a week; eight ringers a day; to work at least one two-hour shift.

Last year the Salvation Army ran out of money in July, said Administrative Director Duana Bremer.

Without donations coming in from the kettle campaign, "We're not able to keep up," said Bremer.

The money raised during the kettle campaign has to last a year. Once the money runs out, the Salvation Army has to turn people away.

"That's the hardest part of my job," Berg said.

Bremer said the Salvation Army is starting to see more and more people who had never had to ask for help before.

A new demographic of people needing assistance requires a new demographic of people stepping up to donate their time or money.

Bremer said although passer-bys see the Salvation Army s

ign above the the red kettles, some don't realize the money goes to local people.

"It's our responsibility to support and help our neighbors," she said. "We just want to be able to help people."


Call 715-247-2944 to get in contact with a volunteer coordinator in your area.