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Lincoln Daily News
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Lincoln, IL  62656

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Director expresses appreciation to retailers and businesses for allowing kettles

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To the editor:

Recently, comments have been expressed in a letter to a newspaper editor concerning

The Salvation Army Red Kettle campaign workers who ring the bell outside in the cold. Many Logan County residents have brought this letter to my attention in person and by telephone.

I would like to focus upon a different perspective entirely, which is that of the many, many bell ringers who stand at our red kettles each year, selflessly devoting their time to raising money for the work of The Salvation Army for the following year. I was one of those bell ringers last year and stood at a kettle at various locations around Lincoln during the entire 2008 Red Kettle campaign. I logged many hours and saw many people as I rang the bell, some of whom stopped by to share how The Salvation Army had helped them directly or helped a family member or neighbor. As they shared, they gave money and each helped to fill the red kettle in my care. I was honored to hear the stories and to be the caretaker of those donations.

Each day, I heard the history of the red kettle as it directly affected everyday folks who were shopping at my red kettle location.

  • I heard stories from veterans of WWII and the Korean War, as well as veterans of Vietnam, who had been encouraged, supported and welcomed by Salvation Army field workers and support teams overseas and back here on American soil.

  • I heard personal accounts from families who had lost their homes in house fires or in floods or in tornadoes and been helped after those tragedies by Salvation Army emergency disaster teams.

  • I heard from single parents who had struggled to put food on the table and who had been helped with Salvation Army food pantry assistance.

  • I heard from a father who had been on the streets and homeless, addicted to alcohol and hopeless until he entered the Adult Rehabilitation Center operated by The Salvation Army. As he shared about his restored and rebuilt life now, his three little daughters each lined up to put their coins into the red kettle.

I wasn't thinking about the cold in those moments. I was often moved to tears by the obvious needs of many people who passed by me: the handicapped, the frail and elderly, parents of young children, folks with serious illnesses, and people who had lost all their worldly possessions. People often stopped to apologize for not giving more, telling of their circumstances and their hardships.

  • I wasn't thinking about the cold as I stood the kettle for the many emergency workers and firefighters from several counties who fought the huge blaze of Dec. 19, 2008, served by The Salvation Army canteen from the Decatur Corps.

[to top of second column in this letter]

  • I wasn't thinking about the cold as I heard the next morning from EMTs, paramedics and firefighters who had stood the bitter cold in downtown Lincoln, putting out that fire in the dark and in subzero temperatures. As these wonderful public servants came by my red kettle, they gave and helped to fill the kettle.

  • I wasn't thinking about the cold as I rang the bell for the families displaced by that fire and by the tornado of Aug. 19, 2009 -- families who received disaster assistance from The Salvation Army here in Logan County.

  • I wasn't thinking about the cold as I rang the bell for the needy families who were saved from eviction and homelessness or utility shutoffs with Salvation Army assistance.

  • I wasn't thinking about the cold as I rang the bell for the families of soldiers who were deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan, struggling with the loss of income from those deployments.

  • I wasn't thinking about the cold as I rang the bell for the families who would receive Thanksgiving and Christmas assistance during one of the hardest economic years of the last several decades.

  • I wasn't thinking about the cold as I rang the bell for more than 100 emergency workers who worked countless hours in support of the Beason murders investigation in September 2009, supported again by The Salvation Army canteen in the field.

The bell ringers who choose to stand a red kettle for The Salvation Army, whether inside or out, are not thinking about their own comfort or pleasure. They are laying down hours of their time to support the work of The Salvation Army, in a precious annual sacrifice that has continued for over 100 years here in Logan County.

I salute them, one and all. Their dedication, generosity and support makes my current job of director here in Logan County so much easier and so rewarding.

I salute all of the retailers and businesses who have allowed us to stand our kettles, whether inside or out, bringing our Red Kettle campaign close to the hearts of Logan County residents each year. The Salvation Army of Logan County could not serve each year without this invaluable support and commitment.

Blessed to serve,

Rebecca Van Nydeggen
Director, The Salvation Army of Logan County

[Posted December 09, 2009]

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