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Salvation Army struggles to find bell ringers this holiday season

Salvation Army struggles to find bell ringers this holiday season


The Salvation Army, like many organizations this year, is struggling to find volunteers and workers to ring its iconic bells to help raise money for families in poverty.

"We always prefer volunteers, that's always what we strive for but we always have people who are hired, that we actually kind of take as part of our ministry as well," said Amy Cederall, a captain with the Salvation Army.

Cederall says the Columbia Salvation Army has 23 bell ringing sites and as of Thursday, it only had five paid ringers.

"We do utilize a lot of volunteers, we appreciate every hour that they give us and we couldn't do it without them but we just don't have enough volunteers to cover either," Cederall said.

The iconic red kettles and bell ringers are strategically placed all over Columbia from Nov. 12 through Christmas Eve but Cederall says they may have to pull ringers from one site and move them to another based on traffic.

"When we don't have ringers standing at the kettle people don't give, that's just a given," Cederall said. "We might get a couple bucks, but it's not going to be anything major and if we don't have the money in the kettles, then we don't have the money to provide the services that we need here a lot around."

The red kettle donations go toward the Salvation Army's programs all year.

During the holiday season, the Salvation Army provides toys for children and food boxes for families. Beyond the holidays, it has character-building programs for children, operates the Harbor House shelter, offers life skills courses, helps with IDs and helps with rent and utility assistance.

Cederall says the goal this year is to raise $91,000.

To incentivize volunteers this year, the Salvation Army will also hold a drawing for a $5,000 diamond and sapphire pendant.

Columbia-based KT Diamond Jewelers donated the jewelry for the event dubbed "Ring for the Bling."

Bell ringers will get one entry in the drawing for each two-hour shift they ring, with no limit on the number of entries.

"It's going to incentivize volunteers to help us to fill more hours, it's going to help us to have, you know, good quality volunteers who are excited and having fun with it, which is going to raise more money," Cederall.

Bell ringing locations include Gerbes, Schnucks, Hy-Vee, Walmart, Hobby Lobby, Sam’s Club, Bass Pro, Moser's, Walgreens and JC Penney. 

You can sign up to ring the bell here. The Salvation Army allows volunteers to choose times and locations.

You can also contact The Salvation Army at 573-442-3229 or

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Zach Boetto

Zach Boetto anchors the weekend morning and weekday 9 a.m. & noon newscasts for ABC 17. You can find up-to-the-minute information on Zach’s social media, @ABC17Zach on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.


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