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Guest column: Bell ringing a success through the pandemic

by By Jennifer Rolfsness
| February 4, 2021 12:30 AM

We would like to thank all of the individuals, organizations and businesses who so willingly gave of their time to “ring the bell” for the Salvation Army’s Kettle Campaign. This was a very different year for the Kettle Campaign – the coronavirus changed our lifestyles and thinking about personal contact. The Lake County Health Department indicated the “bell ringing” could go on as long as the 6-foot distancing and mask wearing was employed. An extra condition, wiping down the kettle with a disinfectant wipe after each donation, was also put in place by the Salvation Army.

This year’s donations exceeded last year’s. A total of $22,300.57 was collected at the four locations — Super One and Walmart in Polson, Pablo Foods in Pablo, and Ronan Harvest Foods in Ronan. A huge thank you to these stores for allowing the Kettle Campaign at their store and a special thank you to those store employees who so graciously “listened” to those bells.

Just to mention a few of the “bell ringers” — Polson High School Key Club, Ronan High School Honor Society, Mission Valley Christian Academy, The Boys and Girls Club, the Kiwanis, the Rotary, Whitefish Credit Union, Mission Mountain Enterprises, Access Montana, S&K Technology, Lake County Realtors, seven area churches, SAFE Harbor, Helping Hands and especially all those individuals who donated their time and have supported the bell ringing for many years, sometimes filling in at a very short notice. None of this could have been accomplished without our amazing kettle coordinator, Loretta Chambers. This was indeed a community caring project.

Ninety percent of all donations stay in Lake County, going to SAFE Harbor, Helping Hands Fund and local law enforcement. This enables them to write vouchers for those in need — i.e. for food, gas, medicine, utilities, school supplies, personal care items, etc. Helping Hands Fund has given out over 600 personal care kits and food items due to the coronavirus (separate from the normal providing for those in need). The Salvation Army vouchers have also provided turkeys for both Ronan and Polson Community Thanksgiving dinners and for the food boxes given to those in need at Christmas. The Salvation Army also provides backpacks for school children.

We are blessed to live in a community that believes in caring about the good of our neighbors and friends and is always there to lend a helping hand.

Jennifer Rolfsness is administrator for Helping Hands of Mission Valley.