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Lack of bellringers hurting Salvation Army red kettle drive in Spokane

Courtesy of Salvation Army

The organization says it has half the usual number of kettles out this holiday season.

The Salvation Army in Spokane says holiday donations to its iconic red kettles are much lower than usual this year.

“Right now, the Salvation Army is in desperate need for volunteer bell ringers to be out manning the kettles for us. We have about half the number of volunteers we normally have at this time of year," said Corps Officer Major Ken Perine.

“This shortage of volunteer bell ringers and even paid bell ringers is new for this year. We’ve never experienced this at this level in the past," he said.

Perine says the kettle program pays for a variety of programs in the community that could be affected if donations don’t pick up.

“The entire after-school program is funded through the Red Kettle Campaign, so that’s a pretty significant hit for us by not having that. Some of that money is used for Christmas, to buy all the food we buy, to make Christmas dinner for folks and it also affects the number of toys we get," he said.

Perine says the organization needs to get more kettles into the community during the next two weeks to raise the money it needs.

He says the Salvation Army’s labor shortage isn’t exclusive to the red kettles. He says it has at least 20 job openings in the Spokane area, including some based in the city’s new shelter on Trent Avenue.

He says the Salvation Army is also looking for volunteers to help with its programs.

“What we really want to tell people is, hey, turn off the Hallmark Channel for a few hours and come and volunteer for us and be a Christmas story for someone else by volunteering for the Salvation Army," he said.

One of the Northwest's most seasoned reporters is returning to his SPR roots. Doug Nadvornick will be heard frequently on KPBX and KSFC reporting on local news.