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Salvation Army Red Kettle campaign kicks off in Charles City

Salvation Army Red Kettle campaign kicks off in Charles City
Carole Foxen rings the bell for the Salvation Army Red Kettle Campaign at Hy-Vee in Charles City on Friday afternoon, while talking to her niece, Kelly Evens. The Black Friday shopping day usually signals the start of the Red Kettle Campaign for many towns across the nation. Press photo by Kelly Terpstra
By Kelly Terpstra,

The familiar ding can be heard from quite some distance away as holiday shoppers enter stores across Charles City.

The bell that produces that sound and the red kettle that comes with it are synonymous with one thing – giving.

Black Friday means crazy deals and discounts for shoppers, and it’s also that time of the year when the Salvation Army’s Red Kettle Campaign kicks off.

As in previous years, Hy-Vee, Schueth Ace Hardware, Theisen’s and Kmart all are participating in the holiday tradition this year in Charles City, offering an opportunity for shoppers to help others by slipping cash or coins into the red kettle set up by the stores’ entrances.

The campaign is something that Carole Foxen looks forward to every year.

“I enjoy it very much because I love people,” said Foxen. “I think this is wonderful because we have a lot of needy people.”

Foxen, from Charles City, began her shift at 1 p.m. on Friday near the Hy-Vee deli and dining area. She said although donations might have not been as brisk as they will be later into the campaign, she understood because it was a holiday weekend.

Foxen said she volunteers for just one hour but is on a list to help out and fill in if someone cancels their shift or can’t make it.

“If I can do it, I’ll do it,” said Foxen, who has also volunteered at the red kettle at Ace Hardware and Kmart in year’s past.

Every bell ringer has his or her own style and Foxen described hers as “low key.”

“I’m not going to ring it hard. That’s not me,” she laughed.

The bell-ringing at the four locations around Charles City last year raised more than $21,500.

“We have such a giving, caring community here,” said Kathy Crooks, the chairwoman of the Floyd County Salvation Army Red Kettle campaign. “It gives you goosebumps if you think about it.”

Funds raised in each community are dedicated to helping people in that community who are recovering from disasters or setbacks in their life. That may mean toys donated to children, food given out to families, clothing provided and other necessities that can help someone get back on their feet.

Crooks, who helps run the Floyd County Salvation Army out of St. John Evangelical Lutheran Church in Charles City, said there were 38 groups that rang the bell last year. The total number of bell-ringers was 415, who put in a total of 452 bell-ringing hours.

The red kettle tradition started in 1891 in San Francisco and is in its 129th year nationwide. The Red Kettle Campaign raised over $142 million in 2018 and over 25,000 volunteers throughout the country help raise money for the worthy cause.