It may have been a steady drizzle coming down outside Monday morning instead of beautiful, white snow flakes, but that didn’t keep one volunteer from being in a cheerful, holiday mood.
Amy Miller, activities director for the Seymour Senior Citizens Center, had a big smile on her face as she rang a bell outside Walmart to raise money for the Salvation Army.
She brought some Christmas music along with her to play but decided not to sing along because she was afraid people wouldn’t donate then.
“It makes me feel good,” she said of being a bell ringer. That’s why she has done it for the past six or so years, she added. “I remember being little and seeing people dressed up as Santa out ringing the bell. It’s just a good tradition.”
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The annual Red Kettle campaign in Seymour kicked off Friday, and elected city officials and employees spent one-hour shifts Monday volunteering as bell ringers on what has become known as Government Day.
Kettles and ringers are set up every day at both Walmart entrances through Christmas Eve to accept donations from the public to help those in need.
All money raised locally stays in Jackson County to provide assistance to low-income residents not just at Christmas time but year round.
The funds are distributed locally by Human Services Inc. and are used to help pay for heating and other utility assistance, rent, medications, winter clothing, work boots, holiday meals and Christmas gifts for children.
Elizabeth Smith of Seymour said she gives every year to the Salvation Army because of the good work the organization does in communities.
“I remember my husband when he was in the service always said they were there to help,” Smith said.
Also supporting the cause Monday was Betty Wilson of Brownstown.
“I donate about every year,” she said after putting some money in the red bucket. “It’s a good cause and helps a lot of people. I like knowing that it helps people here.”
Randy Hamilton, sewer utility director, said he has been a volunteer bell ringer in multiple counties, but is impressed with how many people give in Jackson County.
“And it’s the mid- to low-income people that are the ones giving the most,” he said. “That’s what has surprised me.”
Both Miller and Councilman Matt Nicholson said even with the bad weather, people were opening up their hearts and wallets to give.
“I’ve seen several people put $20 bills in, and I’ve seen little kids come up and put a handful of pennies in,” Nicholson said. “It all adds up.”
Last year, Jackson County raised $21,455. It is one of the more successful Red Kettle campaigns in the state, said Missy Woods, director of Human Services Inc. in Seymour.
But it takes around 600 people to keep the bells ringing, Woods added.
Volunteers still are needed to ring the bells and individuals or groups of people can sign up online at registertoring.com or by calling Woods at 812-525-7063. Beth VonDielingen is assisting Woods this year with the campaign.
Aaliyah Turpin, 4, of Seymour couldn’t pass up the chance to ring a bell Monday. As she was walking into Walmart with her dad, she stopped to find out why Miller was ringing a bell and why people were putting money into the red bucket.
When she learned the money was to help people, Aaliyah said she would be glad to give her own money.
After talking with Miller and ringing the bell, Turpin said she would come back after they were finished shopping to help some more.
“Isn’t that so sweet?” Miller said. “Even at her age, she gets it. This is what the holidays are really about — being kind to each other.”
The Salvation Army is in need of volunteers this year to ring the bells in front of the Seymour Walmart to raise money to help people in need in Jackson County.
Anyone wanting to sign up can do so online at registertoring.com or can call Missy Woods, executive director of Human Services Inc., at 812-525-7063.
Individuals or groups can sign up now for two-hour shifts from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday and from noon to 6 p.m. on Sundays beginning this Friday and running through Christmas Eve.
Donations to the Red Kettle Campaign also can be made online at onlineredkettle.org.
All money collected in Jackson County, stays to help local residents, Woods said.