As many as 10,000 south Mississippi children will be helped this Christmas by the Salvation Army. Some of the people who are helping those children braved Tuesday's chilly morning wind to ring bells and collect holiday donations. The celebrity angels sang carols, and rang Salvation Army bells. Their appearance outside the Biloxi Wal Mart spotlighted the Salvation Army's 2007 kettle drive.
To make the drive a success, the Salvation Army's Stephanie Rosetti knows more volunteers will be needed. "We are putting feelers out. We are working very, very hard," the Christmas coordinator said.
The Salvation Army's six county region has between 20 and 30 kettles set up outside stores. That number varies, depending on how many volunteers get recruited. Major Will Cundiff heads up the south Mississippi region. "When there are no volunteers, we still use the hired workers, because they are people we can help that way," he explained.
People like Chris Roberts make $8.00 an hour, ringing bells and collecting donations. "If I don't work, I don't have no money. I have a tough time myself," she said, while waiting for her shift to begin.
According to Major Cundiff, hiring people who could use a holiday boost is another way to Salvation Army contributes to the community. "They don't want you to give them Christmas, they want to earn Christmas," he said.
But the money they earn takes money away from the 10,000 south Mississippi children who benefit from the kettle drive. "Every time we have to pay a volunteer, that's something less we can do," Rosetti said.
So while the celebrities rang bells and sang carols, the Salvation Army put out an S.O.S to churches and families who'd like to spend part of the holiday season helping others. Major Cundiff believes the kettle drive will generate $80,000 for Salvation Army holiday purchases.
To volunteer as a kettle drive bell ringer, call the Salvation Army. The phone number is 228-868-1188.