Kettle Walk will kick off Red Kettle campaign
The Salvation Army is ready to kick off its Red Kettle Bell campaign with the second annual Red Kettle Walk starting at 11 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 14, at Trig’s, 1600 Academy Ave., Stevens Point.
There is no registration fee for the Kettle Walk, though participants will have the opportunity to donate at each of the kettle bells stops made during the walk. Walkers should arrive 15 minutes early to sign up on the day of the event. The Kettle Walk is a rain or shine event.
The six mile walk will lead from Trig’s to Shopko, then to Copps Market in Stevens Point, through east side Stevens Point neighborhoods and University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point to Kmart and the last leg back to Trig’s.
Brant Bergeron, the Kettle Walk director, said last year’s event drew about 30 people, a number he thinks will grow this year.
“We are hoping this will spread by word of mouth and that Mother Nature will cooperate this year,” Bergeron said. “This is a noncompetitive way to spend time with family, co-workers, friends, and it brings raised awareness to Hope Center.”
The Red Kettle Campaign raises nearly a third of the Hope Center’s budget each year, Bergeron said. The donations given during this holiday season help provide meals for those in need, clothing and toys for families that can’t afford them, and help with basic necessities. The funds also help keep the shelter operating so those without a home have a place to stay.
Through donations, the Hope Center is able to provide those who stay there with counseling, assistance in finding a job, getting children back in school and finding long-term homes.
Bob Quam, director of the Hope Center, said the shelter provides 12,000 bed nights a year and serves more than 25,000 meals annually.
“The Hope Center does great work for folks who need a hand up,” Bergeron said. “There’s the meal center for those who need hot meals and they do the great work that many other organizations don’t care to do. We are a caring community in Portage County and the Hope Center is a great part of that.”
Quam said the campaign still needs volunteers to ring bells throughout the season. The campaign runs from Saturday, Nov. 14, through Dec. 24. Volunteers can sign up for two-hour shifts from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday. There are 11 different locations around Portage County where the kettles will be located.
“Any time anyone can give us we really appreciate,” said Quam. “It’s a fun time for the volunteers. They make people smile, they make new friends, they see old friends. It’s a very sociable time.”
Those who wish to ring bells can sign up online at ringbells.org or call 715-341-2437. People may also register for a bell-ringing shift at the United Way of Portage County Volunteers Rock website.
Last year’s campaign used the help of about 400 volunteers, though Quam said it was probably more because people often bring friends along for their ringing shifts.
Bergeron said the Red Kettle Bell campaign has been helping to support the Hope Center in Portage County for at least the last 30 years. The campaign idea originated in 1897 in San Francisco with the slogan “Keep the pot boiling.” It was started by a sea captain who borrowed the idea from a charity he saw in east London, where kettles were set out to raise money for the widows and children of men who never returned from sea.