It’s beginning to sound a lot like Christmas outside grocery stores across Wisconsin!

The 2022 Red Kettle Campaign starts Friday, November 11, and this is no hyperbole: The Salvation Army needs your help now more than ever before.

We sat down with Steve Heck, Executive Director of Philanthropy, to find out what’s new this year.

UpNorthNews Editor Christina Lorey: The need for food, shelter, and other essential services rose significantly during the pandemic. How has the past year compared to the previous two? 

Executive Director of Philanthropy Steve Heck: The need for all those things has continued to increase. Last month, we had 98 families call in for the first time in need of shelter. That’s on top of the 35 families that are already in our [Dane County] shelter and the ones already on our waiting list. The numbers change almost daily, but the need is great and growing.

How has inflation impacted the Salvation Army?

When everything costs more and you are not making more money, it doesn’t take much to create an issue. [Families] that are using our shelters are trying to afford permanent housing, but their dollars just don’t stretch as far. It’s taking longer for them to save the money they need.

What’s new about this year’s Red Kettle campaign?

We are doing a “Ring for Bling!” For every two hours that you ring bells, you are entered into a drawing for a pair of earrings and a necklace from the Diamond Center. [Available for bell ringers in Dane County. Check your local Salvation Army chapter for their specific, special campaigns.]

What makes a bigger impact: Giving time or money

Both are important to our success, but if you can give your time, you can bring in a lot of money. Time is the most valuable thing we have, and we appreciate people’s willingness to give theirs to help others.

How much money does the average bell ringer bring in, in a single shift?

The average bell ringer [in Dane County] collects about $50 an hour. Here are some interesting facts about what we’re able to accomplish with that money:

  • For every $2.86, we can provide one meal for a hungry person.
  • $25 pays for bus rides to and from work for a homeless individual.
  • $35 provides one night in our shelter and three meals.
  • $50 buys a bus ticket for a homeless person to move where they have family, support, and a possible job.
  • $75 provides a newborn with formula and clothing for two months.
  • $112 sends a child in need to our day camp for a week.  
  • $200 buys winter coats, hats, gloves, and boots for a family of four.
  • $400 sponsors a child’s athletic program for an entire year.
  • $1,120 sends a child to day camp for the entire summer.
  • $1,500 buys a computer station in our computer lab.

What would you say to anyone who’s on the fence about volunteering?

I promise that you will have a good time. People will come up to you and thank you. Many will tell you a story about how the Salvation Army saved their Christmas as a kid. Or their grandpa’s. Or their dad’s. And you will just feel good about what you are doing. 

The 2022 Red Kettle Campaign runs through Christmas Eve. 
Click here to sign up for a shift today!