Carson City Salvation Army Capt. Erica Helton said donations are down compared to last year, but with a few extra days on the calendar between Thanksgiving and Christmas, she's hoping it all washes out in the end.
"Right now we have kettles at nine stores, with eight volunteers," Helton said. "We will be at 23 (stores) at the peak of the season."
The difference is due to varying solicitation policies at department and grocery stores.
"It's a sign of the changing times and, unfortunately, the legality. If you open your doors to everyone, how do you manage it?"
Stores in Carson City that continue to support the Salvation Army include, Wal-Mart, Mervyn's, Raley's, Albertsons, Safeway and Smith's. With Wal-Mart recently opening a store in North Carson City, Helton sees this as a double blessing.
But she needs volunteer bell ringers for the kettles. She encourages service groups to participate. Those signed up to participate in the celebrity bell ringing contest Dec. 17 are Kiwanis, Soroptimist International, Greater Nevada Credit Union and Carson High School ROTC.
"It sounds like we'll have a good competition this year," Helton said. "I would like to see more service clubs go against each other - those who have the manpower and can ring the bell and schmooz the funds. It's nice to see the community step up and make the donations."
For the celebrity challenge, call Amy Scaffidi, kettle manager, to sign up. The number is 887-9120.
Helton found it necessary to hire Scaffidi after the overwhelming rush of holiday business nearly left her without church services at the Salvation Army.
"I'm not only the program director for the Salvation Army, but I'm the pastor as well. This year, I made a decision to not cancel programs. It's important I'm not pulled away from the office. The kettles can be all-consuming. They're out there Monday through Saturday, through Christmas Eve, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m."
Helton said about $103,000 in donations was received last year, beyond her goal of $90,000.
"I've set my goal at $85,000 this year," Helton said. "I dropped it, knowing what we're facing with everybody donating to hurricane victims.
"It's still a challenge, but not an impossibility."
To volunteer to ring a bell for the Salvation Army, call Kaysha Turner at 887-9120. Donations may also be made through the Internet at www.salvationarmyusa.org and click on the red kettle.
The red kettle program began with Capt. Joseph McFee in 1891 at the foot of Market Street at the Oakland, Calif., ferry landing as a way to get charitable donations to pay for Christmas meals for the area's poor.
McFee placed a pot in a conspicuous place to be seen by all going to and from the ferry boats.
More than $95.3 million was contributed to the red kettle program in 2004.
n Contact Rhonda Costa-Landers at email@example.com or 881-1223.
You can help
WHAT: Salvation Army red kettle bell ringers, volunteer and paid
WHEN: 10 a.m.-7 p.m. through Christmas Eve
CALL: Kaysha Turner, 887-9120
Also, for celebrity bell-ringing competition Dec. 17, call Amy Scaffidi at 887-9120.