Valley City’s annual Salvation Army begins its 2012 bell-ringing campaign Friday, Nov. 23, the day after Thanksgiving.
The mission goal of $32,000 is $10,000 greater than last year’s goal, a result of tremendous success last year combined with great need, said Isensee, the Barnes County Salvation Army chairman.
Last year the campaign raised double its goal of $22,000.
The Salvation Army is a Christian organization started in 1852 in England by William Booth and brought to the U.S. in 1880.
Isensee said since the organization came to the U.S., its mission has remained the same – “to help all the hungry, homeless and poor regardless of religion or race.”
“The people of Valley City and Barnes County surely showed us last year and opened up their hearts to us in the 2011 bell-ringing campaign. With donations that far exceeded any previous year, and because of everyone’s generosity, we were able to start three new programs in addition to the ones we already had in place. We are now able to help those in dire need of groceries with food vouchers in conjunction with the food pantry. The second program is transportation through South Central Transit for people who use the buses for cancer treatment, dialysis or other medical needs and just can’t afford to pay for all the miles of driving they through travel vouchers.”
Isensee said the Salvation Army is giving out food vouchers because the food pantry only allows people eligible for the assistance to get nine food baskets per year. “That really didn’t solve the need for those in dire need, so we are giving food vouchers for the remainder of times (once a person or family receives the maximum allowed number of baskets).”
The third new program this year, run by Michelle Grebel, helps youngsters in the Valley City School District.
Said Isensee, “Many children cannot afford daily milk, so we are picking up that for them.”
Isensee said none of the three new programs would have been possible “without the generous donations of the people of Valley City and Barnes County.”
This year’s fundraising goal has been dramatically increased “with the hope that we can keep these new programs alive. Even though our state’s economy is strong, for some reason the need for help is far greater that we have ever seen before.”
With an Oct. 1 start to the fiscal year, Isensee said in that first month “we gave away over $5,000 of aid to those in need.”
Joe Lunde, who chairs the 2012 bell-ringing campaign with Dave Carlsrud, said that first month spending “times 12 would be unbelievable.”
In the last fiscal year, which ran October 2011 through October 2012, Isensee said the local Salvation Army group helped more than 550 people.
“Fundraising last year really surprised us, and we hope to repeat (last year’s success) so we can continue offering expanded programs. How blessed we are that they did contribute,” Isensee said.
Lunde said Monday he got a call from a woman whose power had been shut off. “She said she was in the hospital (because of a serious medical problem) and needed help paying her bill.” Lunde also mentioned helping a family that had a barely working automobile, and another person who only asked for one meal.
This year the Salvation Army is looking for people to fill 250 bell-ringing spots, in one-hour shifts between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. Bell ringing will take place at Leevers Foods, MarketPlace Foods and the Shopko HomeTown store.
Those who want to volunteer for spots can call Lunde at 845-1974, or Carlsrud at 840-7291.