Help ring a bell in Tioga County this holiday season

You’ve heard the ringing bell. You’ve seen the red kettle. The person ringing the bell is a volunteer who has offered his or her time to help others in need. The Salvation Army’s Red Kettle Drive has long been associated with the Christmas season, and organizers within Tioga County are looking for more volunteers.

“The Red Kettle Drive is so important. The money collected here, stays here,” explained Dot Richter, Tioga County’s Salvation Army service unit coordinator.

The Red Kettle Bell Ringer program is a substantial portion of the funds necessary to help people in the community not only during the holiday season, but all year long.

Richter, also the executive director of the Community Care Network of Nichols (CCNN), partners with other Tioga County agencies in an effort to work as a more collective group in addressing people’s needs. From that experience, Richter has gained a better understanding of how best to help people.

“The Salvation Army donated $700 worth of turkeys for Thanksgiving food baskets and supports the cost of toys given to children at the Sheriff’s Christmas party,” shared Richter.

And, as another example, Richter added, “The Salvation Army will give food baskets again this year to families with children.” In reference to a need for children to receive meals when they are not in school during the upcoming holiday break, the Salvation Army steps in to make that happen.

Anne McManus-Grant, Department of Aging director for Tioga Opportunities, Inc., shared that the Salvation Army was extremely helpful during the flood of 2011, as she witnessed first-hand in her previous position as the Director of the Flood Relief Program with Catholic Charities of Tompkins/Tioga.

“The Salvation Army was there for Tioga County citizens,” she said.  McManus-Grant also coordinates the Red Kettle Bell Ringing program in Owego.

Dale Corbin and Ron Wheeland, who have helped schedule bell ringers for several years and both have taken turns ringing a bell, are helping again this year. Corbin is grateful for the Salvation Army’s help during the flood of 2011. In addition to supplying meals, food distribution, household needs and disaster supplies, they also gave much needed emotional care. Since many Salvation Army volunteers were area residents, they were able to stay and help for an extended period of time.

“The Salvation Army volunteers even drove around neighborhoods outside of Owego, delivering sandwiches and whatever was needed,” said Corbin, a kind gesture she will always remember.

Ron Wheeland and Dale Corbin are looking for volunteers to ring a bell at two Owego locations, including Tops Market, 1145 State Rte. 17C and Price Chopper at 42 W. Main St.

“Whatever time you can donate is appreciated,” said Corbin. Wheeland and Corbin are also reaching out to all area organizations such as the Boy and Girl Scouts and Church groups, as well as individuals.

Corbin suggests, “Pay it forward, and give back to the community.” Dale Corbin shared that she first started volunteering to ring a bell six years ago after reading an article in the Owego Pennysaver.

Bell ringers are needed immediately up until Christmas Eve day, and will be allowed to stand inside the entrance to the stores during their volunteer time, away from whatever weather is happening outside.

If you can share an hour or two, or whatever time you are able, it will make a difference. Bell ringers can also add a little pizzazz to their bell ringing duties, for example a gentleman plays an accordion while volunteering as a Salvation Army bell ringer at Tioga Downs.

If you are interested in helping, call Ron Wheeland at (607) 687-2733.