Bell ringers needed for Kettle Campaign in Jamestown

Salvation Army
Contributions at the Salvation Army red kettles are less when there are no volunteers present ringing a bell and wishing donors a Merry Christmas. John M. Steiner / Sun file photo

Maj. Judy Lowder is worried about the lack of bell ringers so far this year for the Red Kettle Campaign, the primary annual fundraiser for the Salvation Army in Jamestown.

“I’m highly concerned to see (this) because if we don’t reach our goal then we will have to start cutting programs, not being open Monday through Friday,” she said.

The church provides services that include rent and utility assistance, a food pantry, emergency lodging, assistance for stranded travelers and programs including the Angel Tree Christmas program, Coats for Kids and spiritual services.

The Salvation Army in Jamestown is at a minimum staff of two people right now, said Lowder, corps officer. And the demand for services is at an "unprecedented increase" since the coronavirus pandemic began with a 155% increase in the number of people served since March, she said.

“For us, we’ve seen an increase in people needing food assistance, hygiene assistance, many coming in asking for toilet paper,” Lowder said. “So, again, seeing that need for people who’ve never come to us before are now coming to us for help.”


Volunteers are critical to the Red Kettle Campaign each year in Jamestown. This year there are five places where the kettles are set up but Lowder is having problems finding people to volunteer and she’s not sure why. Whether it’s related to the coronavirus pandemic, ringing the bell outdoors or some other reason, she doesn’t know.

“Right now we have over 1,000 hours still free (for people to sign up to volunteer),” she said.

Kettles are located outside at Walmart (two places) and Cash Wise Foods. They are also located inside at the Jamestown Business Center by The Depot and on Dec. 1, a new location will open at Tractor Supply Company.

The campaign began on Nov. 16 with a goal to raise a $151,000.

“And that day nobody rang,” Lowder said. “I had no bell ringers that day.”

She thinks between the kettles and mail-in contributions, maybe $10,000 has been raised so far.

Lowder, who came to Jamestown last year in her position for the Salvation Army, said she was able to find volunteers in 2019, although it’s a challenge to fill the outdoor locations.

“This year it’s looking worse as of today with having places covered,” she said.


Volunteers are needed to ring the bell Monday through Saturday.

“We just ask for a minimum of two hours and some do it longer, which is great,” she said.

Every kettle is outfitted with contactless digital pay options, she noted. Lowder picks up the red bucket at the end of the volunteer’s shift. Once the money is counted, she lets the volunteer know how much was raised on that shift.

“If they have signed up with the website and they have an email they will get an email telling them what was donated during that time they worked,” she said.

Lowder said leaving a stand with a bucket at the locations with no volunteer doesn’t help the campaign.

“... Just leaving a stand with a bucket on it does not raise money,” she said. “The bell ringers do make a difference.”

The Red Kettle Campaign’s theme this year is “Rescue Christmas,” Lowder said, a fitting theme for the situation facing the church. “And the Salvation Army here in Jamestown really does need help - with people willing, just two hours can truly make a difference for our community ringing the bell.”

To volunteer, go to People may also call the Salvation Army at 252-0290 or call Lowder at 269-3930 to schedule a time to volunteer.

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