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The bell ringing begins

| Friday, Nov. 23, 2007

Just a junior in high school, Tyler Doppelheuer is no stranger to community service.

Working with several organizations and spearheading a fundraiser to rehabilitate a Connellsville baseball field, Doppelheuer has now turned his attention to helping coordinate the Salvation Army's annual kettle drive campaign in the Connellsville area.

In the past, the kettle drive was headed by teacher Gary Wandel. But upon his retirement this past year, the event was left without a coordinator.

"I didn't want to see something like this end, so I said I would do what I could to keep it going," Connellsville Area High School teacher Beth Shreve said.

Once Doppelheuer found out about it, his sights were set, too.

"I just told her (Shreve) that I was helping and that was it," he said. "I think it looks good on a school to do something like this, and all schools should get involved in their community. Service is a way to make yourself better along with your community."

Over the past several weeks, Doppelheuer has spent time on the phone contacting Geibel Catholic Middle-High School, the Greater Connellsville Chamber of Commerce and church youth groups to get the necessary volunteers for the kettle drive.

"The hardest thing is just getting the volunteers," he said, adding that they still need approximately 160 individuals to commit to ringing the bell for a two-hour session.

Beginning today, ringers will set up at both entrances to the Connellsville Wal-Mart, as well as Shop 'N Save. They will be there from 4 to 8 p.m. weekdays, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sundays over the next several weeks.

The only responsibilities of the volunteers will be to ring the bell and to hand out candy canes.

"The kids like candy canes, but surprisingly so do the adults, so we like to hand those out," Doppelheuer said.

At the end of each day, Doppelheuer, Shreve or another member of their committee, will collect the kettles and count the money.

Last year, the group raised approximately $14,000 for the campaign. This year, the group is optimistic it will reach that same number.

"It will be a challenge since this is just the first year that we've organized the event, but the people of Connellsville have always come through," Doppelheuer said.

Anyone who might be able to give of their time to ring the bell should call Doppelheuer at 724-570-1536 or Shreve at 724-628-8351.

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