It’s Kettle Season!Salvation Army volunteers encourage donors to help others at Christmastime.
“How do we increase volunteer hours at the kettle?”
“How do we keep this aim at the top of our mind throughout the year?”
These are just a few of the questions Salvation Army corps officers and their staffs contemplate annually. With calendar in hand, they think, here is what we should be doing this month and in this place. Time to work the schedule; let’s stay focused by using the best ways to present our volunteer recruitment ideas!
This year, Commissioner William A. Bamford, territorial commander, has set a goal of increasing kettle volunteerism by 25 percent. That declaration has created a buzz among officers and kettle workers as they brainstorm ideas for the Christmas season.
“I’m grateful for Chaz Watson and the development team at Territorial Headquarters who are working together with the development directors all across the territory to really get a good grasp on our kettle effort for this coming year,” said Major Evan Hickman, divisional commander in Northeastern Ohio. “I believe our territorial commander has really energized us with this reachable and aggressive goal. It encourages us as a division to reach out to all of our community partners and schools and organizations.”
Hickman said friendly competitions are part of the energy behind many successes. “We’ve always had the ‘Battle of the Bells’ competition such as Rotary vs Kiwanis clubs, and Lions vs the Eagles clubs. We’ve got one location in Toledo where the fire chief and the police chief are going head–to–head on opposite sides of town on different kettles. So, I’ve always asked our officers to up–the–ante a little bit and establish different niches like these.”
Along with all the fun, Hickman also emphasizes that the bottom line is really spiritual, rather than financial. “When someone comes up and sees the kettle, prayer requests and God’s word are shared, burdens are lifted, and we become a better nation and world as a result. It’s not about income, it’s about outcome. It’s about us being on the streets where we’ve always been and where we still need to be.”
Kettle workers are already in the throes of the Christmas fundraising season, the time of year when The Salvation Army works its hardest to raise funds needed to do the most good for people struggling to maintain the holiday spirit, despite life’s challenges.
Even now, teams of workers are delivering supplies and holding orientations; they’re meeting with volunteers and sharing important information about procedures and expectations. They’re reviewing vital tips for better bellringing in both English and in Spanish. They’re talking with seasonal employees about the Army’s goals, priorities, and opportunities.
Corps officers are promoting volunteer recruitment campaigns via email, newsletters, and on multiple social media platforms. Local radio and TV networks are spreading the word via the internet and over airwaves. Throughout the territory they’re broadcasting plans for kettle kickoff events and then covering them as they happen.
Corps officers are monitoring progress at strategic kettle locations. They’re taking note of worker performance and making adjustments as needed. By the end of this month, they’ll send “thank you” emails to all of those hard–working volunteers and employees.
The volunteer recruitment campaign will continue throughout the month of December through additional social media, email, and newsletter communications. By December 31, corps officers will have recorded all incomes, received and evaluated feedback, and made adjustments for next year.
Christine A. Coiner, a volunteer and Salvation Army board member in Portage County near Cleveland, Ohio, enjoys the acquaintances she’s made during moments at the kettle. “I enjoy meeting people; I greet everyone with a big smile. I try to make some kind of connection with them,” says the retired General Motors plant manager. “I look at the apparel that they’re wearing, be it from a sports team or high school, just to make some small talk. I think it’s important to make eye contact, make them feel at ease, and be friendly.
“I ask the smaller children if they would like to ring the bell. I always buy bags of Hershey Kisses for the kids and adults.” Rather than wish them a happy holiday, Chris makes sure the reason for the season is clear. “It’s all about why we celebrate.” I stand by the kettle, so I am visible to the people. I ring that bell all the time.”
Seeking volunteers has helped her form long–lasting friendships, particularly with members from her United Methodist Church in Kent, Ohio. “One couple invites me over for football games because they know I’m a big Ohio State fan and a Cleveland Browns fan.” As a Youngstown State University and Geneva College graduate, she says such relationships have been rewarding.
Coiner also enjoys the competitive nature of the campaign. “I always ask, ‘how much did we make today?’ because I want to show that a personal approach makes a difference vs people just walking by. But I just want people to feel important. I don’t care if they give a penny.”
As a landlord, Coiner has provided housing to families in her community. One day, a longtime friend invited her to volunteer. “She was just telling me about The Salvation Army. She said, ‘If you ever want to donate some time, come on over.” I said, ‘Jeanene, that’s really strange because I’m looking for something!’” Today as a Salvation Army board member, Coiner continues to influence positive outcomes in neighborhoods.
Years before Coiner was born, The Salvation Army impressed upon her dad’s heart a desire to support its work. She says of the WW2 and Korean War veteran, “He’s been deceased for 19 years, but my mom always tells me that my dad spoke so highly of the charity The Salvation Army gave to servicemen.”
by Warren L. Maye