Salvation Army Capt. Joseph Irvine (left) is joined at the annual Kettle Kickoff by Thrivent Financial of Williston advisers Stuart Langager, Terry Oxendahl, Kristen Iverson and Rachel Linn, and bell-ringer Choong Liat Lim (far right).
With outside temperatures in Williston near zero, the local Salvation Army launched its traditional Red Kettle Kickoff at the Cash Wise grocery store on Friday.
Salvation Army Capt. Joseph Irvine spearheaded the heartfelt event which included several financial advisers from Thrivent Financial, on hand to lend their support.
“We’re starting with our bell-ringing,” Irvine said. “Our traditional start is the Friday before Thanksgiving.”
He said the kickoff took place at Cash Wise because it’s a “great partner with the Salvation Army.”
“We wanted to use Cash Wise as our starting location, where we have traditionally done our kickoff,” Irvine said.
Although he cited Williston’s Walmart as another valued partner with the Salvation Army, Irvine said the option for a bell-ringer to stand inside at Cash Wise is a big enticement.
In the past, Williston’s mayor and Miss North Dakota have joined in the traditional Red Kettle Kickoff, said Irvine, who welcomed participating volunteers at Friday’s event.
Kristen Iverson, a Thrivent adviser, pointed out the group came as individual volunteers.
“It’s a tradition for me,” Iverson said. “Every year, I donate and ring bells. Actually, I used to work for Salvation Army in Williston.... I’ve seen with my own eyes the good work they do.”
Thrivent advisers Terry Oxendahl and Stuart Langager — members of the Williston Lions Club along with Irvine — agreed with their Thrivent colleague.
“We wanna support the Salvation Army,” said Oxendahl.
“Part of our mission as Thrivent representatives is to help people live lives of generosity, which dovetails well with the Salvation Army,” Langager added.
Irvine said the Salvation Army has a revenue target in raising contributions for the season, which began Nov. 1, 2022, and continues through mid-January 2023.
“With all the different revenue avenues we have, we plan to raise $250,000,” he said, adding the Salvation Army hopes to raise $85,000 from bell-ringing alone.
Although most of the bell-ringers are volunteers, the Salvation Army pays some seasonal workers who stand outside.
“Primarily, we look to volunteers to help us out with bell-ringing,” Irvine said, noting many volunteers come from the Williston Lions Club, Rotary International and other local non-profit organizations. “We really rely heavily toward volunteers.”
Although the Salvation Army has existed internationally for more than a century, modern technology is helping the organization achieve its goals of raising money for “the poor, the homeless, the hungry and the destitute.”
Standing inside the entry to Cash Wise, Irvine pointed to a display featuring familiar smartphone app icons. He retrieved his own cell phone and demonstrated how people can quickly scan the signs and donate to the Salvation Army, almost instantaneously.
With a smartphone, donating money is as easy as eating pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving Day...but it’s still cold outside for bell-ringers.
Thanks to the Salvation Army and its corps of volunteers, the holidays are always a little warmer for the folks they help.