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Red Kettle Christmas Campaign starts Monday

Around Thanksgiving each year, as if by magic, the Salvation Army’s Red Kettle Christmas Campaign kicks off in Pagosa Springs.

Bell ringers and their famous red kettles appear at the entrance to City Market. This year’s campaign will begin Monday, Nov. 22.

Have you ever wondered who these bell ringers are and what motivates them to stand in what might be cold, snowy weather, to solicit your donations?

The bell ringers are your own local friends and neighbors. They volunteer their time so that, at Christmas, and throughout the year, the Salvation Army can help folks make ends meet. The Salvation Army serves people here in our community and those in need throughout the nation, and throughout the world. Salvation Army is an international ministry that functions at a grass roots level.

The Christmas red kettle is an integral part of the Christmas scene that extends help and hope throughout the year. One-hundred percent of your designated donation (personal or business checks) are kept in Archuleta County. Ninety percent of your cash donations to the kettles are kept locally to provide assistance with such things as food, shelter, medical, prescriptions, utilities, school supplies, winter clothing and other emergency needs. Ten percent of your cash donations are sent to the Intermountain Division of Salvation Army, which goes toward the larger ministries of the organization such as emergency disaster relief, addiction treatment centers, homeless shelters, summer camp for children, and others.

Local bell ringers are joining in a tradition dating back to 1891. They are among the 3.4 million volunteers who simply wish to share the spirit of Christmas and the spirit of giving, to offer hope and help to their neighbors in need. The bell ringers here are not paid employees. They do not receive a percentage of the money given to the Cause. The kettles are kept locked and are only emptied by a Salvation Army official.

If raising money for the Salvation Army “rings your bell,” you can volunteer now to be part of the “bucket brigade” in Pagosa Springs. For more information or to fill a time slot to become a bell ringer, call 264-6957 between the hours of 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. weekdays and ask for Anna or Drew. You can volunteer for as short a time as one hour, or you can volunteer for an entire afternoon with your friends, neighbors, or with fellow members of an organization.

Since its beginning 119 years ago, the campaign has grown into one of the most recognizable and charitable organizations in the United States. The 2010 Campaign will kick off nationally during the halftime performance at the Dallas Cowboys- New Orleans Saints NFL football game on Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 25. Entertainment by Grammy award-winning artist Keith Urban will highlight the show. This year the Salvation Army will be sponsoring a number of contests. More information about these can be found online at

You can mail your donations to Salvation Army, P.O. Box 1567, Pagosa Springs, CO 81147, and please plan to keep your checkout change handy so you can participate in this worthwhile endeavor.