Kim Hone-McMahan


The Salvation Army’s new campaign is “Project Bell Ringer” for which 9,000 volunteer hours are needed. Ringing can be fun — particularly if you are a little competitive.



Jeanette Brown, volunteer manager with the Salvation Army, suggests that departments within the same business challenge each other. The accounting department might dare the employees in human resources to see which group can collect the most money in a 12-hour period. With enough people sharing the responsibility, it could mean each person spends only an hour or two at one of the 46 kettle locations in Summit County.



Or maybe you belong to a group — bowling league, card club, Sunday school class, baseball or basketball league, student council — and could man a kettle together. It doesn’t have to be for a 12-hour period. Heck, the folks at the Salvation Army would love it if you gave just an hour or two of your time during the campaign, which begins Nov. 14 and runs through Christmas Eve.



Ringing a bell is a great way for students to earn community service hours. And if your group has a special talent like singing or playing instruments, why not perform around the kettle? People would likely drop in a few extra coins in appreciation of your talents.



Bell ringers



Christmas in downtown Akron used to be a magical time. Families made their annual pilgrimage to ogle the holiday displays in the windows of the O’Neil’s and Polsky’s department stores. The air smelled of sulfur and people dressed in winter coats and scarves stood at the corners ringing bells. But after the stores closed and the smell of rubber disappeared, so did the ringers. This year though, they are coming back.



Downtown is abuzz with activity again, especially during lunch. So much so that the bells will be returning between 11:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. at three locations. Ringers are needed beginning mid-November during the work week at the corners of Main and Exchange streets, Main and Market, and at Lock 3. Even the folks in city hall, who will be participating, are encouraging folks to ring bells at one of the downtown locations.



The Salvation Army provides toys, food and gifts during the holiday season to more than 1,000 families.



“Four months ago, I ordered all of the turkeys. I ordered 600 because not everybody wants turkeys. If we have 1,500 families, maybe 600 families are going to want turkeys. The others, I give a bag and a box of home care items, like Dawn dish soap, mops, cleaning and paper supplies, and things that run a household that you can’t buy with food stamps,” explained Maj. David Dunham, area coordinator for the Salvation Army in Summit County. “Some people might have enough food in the closet, but they can’t afford toilet paper.”



In addition to the holiday efforts, the kettle money is used throughout the year to help our neighbors in need.



“One hour of bell ringing can raise enough money to shelter a homeless person one night and serve them three nutritious meals,” Brown said.



Last year, your dimes and quarters raised an astounding $400,000. While that is terrific, $500,000 is needed, so please toss in an extra few nickels this year. And don’t forget to offer up a challenge to a co-worker or maybe even another company, business or government office.



With that in mind, fellow columnist Bob Dyer and I are encouraging challengers. We will be splitting a 90-minute shift at the corner of Main and Exchange streets on Tuesday, Nov. 18. If you have the guts, and a warm winter coat — bring it on.



To challenge Bob and I, or volunteer to ring a bell at any location in Summit County, call Jeanette Brown at 330-434-7365.



Kim Hone-McMahan can be reached at 330-996-3742 or kmcmahan@thebeaconjournal.com. Find her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/kim.honemcmahan.