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Western Pa. Salvation Army solicits ringers

| Monday, Nov. 4, 2013, 4:16 a.m.
Jennifer R. Vertullo | Daily News
Capt. James Brown of the Salvation Army's Steel Valley Worship and Service Center talks with after-school program participants Evan Coleman and Jesean Wright about the kettle drives that take place during the holiday season.

In Mon-Yough church bulletins, notice has gone out for bell-ringers to assist the Salvation Army.

Volunteers can sign up on the Army's Western Pennsylvania Division website for shifts ringing the bells that call attention to the traditional red kettles.

It's one of a variety of roles for which volunteers have had to step in, not just during the weeks before Christmas.

“We've cut our expenditures and reduced the budget as much as possible at our facilities without hurting client services,” division spokeswoman Virginia Knor said last week.

She said clients are going to those centers in increasing numbers for food assistance and for youth programs operated after school and on other occasions. In all those cases, the Army seeks volunteers.

“We're relying on our volunteers, even for lawn care, cleanup and maintenance to help our day-to-day operations,” Knor said.

She said a reason is that those who give often hurt as much as those who need help.

It was evident at many of the Army's worship and service centers across 26 counties, where the goal for the coming season will be down from $2.8 million to $2,729,030.

In Allegheny County alone, the goal was trimmed from $785,000 last year to $687,500 for the upcoming season.

There were success stories last year.

The Braddock center set a goal of $80,000 and brought in $88,306.58, or more than twice what it netted in 2012.

In the hope that last year wasn't the fluke, for this holiday season the goal is $85,000.

On the other hand, McKeesport set a goal of $63,000 but only raised $48,157.22. This year, the goal is $49,000.

Steel Valley (Homestead) set a goal of $75,000 last year but only raised $45,298.69. For this year, the goal is $60,000.

Outside Allegheny County, Jeannette was among the success stories, topping a $56,000 goal with $64,484 in its kettles.

For this year, the goal there is $65,000.

Greensburg had an $80,000 goal last year but only drew in $68,289.50. For this season, the goal remains at $80,000.

Monessen will see a reduced goal this season. Its bar was set at $75,000 last year but only $65,778.40 was dropped in the kettles, so for this holiday season the goal is $66,000.

Figures were not available from the divisional office for Irwin, which has a service center based out of the First Presbyterian Church.

Traditionally, that center is able to meet its goal, which last year was more than $30,000.

While the kettles are being dusted off, so are the roasting pans. Traditional Thanksgiving dinners are scheduled in many Army locations, with dates and times to be announced soon.

Knor said Bottom Dollar Food stepped in with 300 turkeys when a longtime donor was unable to continue providing them.

“They have been so good to us,” the division spokeswoman said.

The Army's appeal for bell-ringers isn't limited to its website, salvationarmy-wpa.org. Those wishing to volunteer can contact the division office at 412-446-1548.

Patrick Cloonan is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1967.

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