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Ringing in the season

By ABBY BELDEN

abelden@dailynews.net

Salvation Army bell-ringers often are heard before their trademark red kettle or aprons are seen.

Each year, Salvation Army volunteers in Hays stand outside Walmart SuperCenter, Cervs, Walgreens and Dillons, ring bells and collect donated money.

Rosie Kreutzer is one of those volunteers.

"I don't work full-time anymore," Kreutzer said. "So, I have always wanted to do it, but I always had two jobs and I just work 25 hours a week now. So I can do all these things, and I love doing them."

Her volunteer work with the Salvation Army began four years ago.

"I just called them up and asked them if I could ring it," she said about the bells. "I just wanted to do it."

This is the first year Kreutzer accepted a paid position as a bell-ringer.

The bell ringing not only keeps her busy during the winter months, but also is an enjoyable task -- not solely because she is helping others, but also the fun and excitement it can bring.

"The little kids just love it," she said.

Kreutzer said she probably will add 30 hours to her already logged 20 hours before the season finishes.

Senta Kuchar, Salvation Army Kettle coordinator, said 88 percent of the money raised from the bell-ringers during the season, which is from Nov. 16 to Dec. 24, goes back into the community.

Kuchar said the money helps supply local food banks and is donated to local agencies to help out with certain financial needs, such as paying utilities or rent.

"This is helping our people in our community, and I think it would be a good thing for more community involvement, more community support," Kuchar said. "Getting people involved that haven't been involved before, because honestly, volunteering does as much for you as it does for the person you are helping."

The bell-ringers can volunteer to work Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Kuchar said the normal length of a shift is one hour, but some choose to volunteer longer.

Eleasha Tryon, senior in child development at Fort Hays State University, is one of those volunteers.

This is Tryon's first year of volunteering as a bell-ringer in town.

She said she heard about the opportunity from her pastor at Cross Point Church when he sent out a message on Facebook that said the Salvation Army was looking for volunteers.

"I haven't had many opportunities," she said. "I've had a pretty full workload, and I was in town over the (Thanksgiving) holiday. And I think giving back is something I really enjoy. ... And I thought what a good opportunity to use my time effectively."

Tryon is an active member in at least three campus organizations and also works part-time, in addition to being a full-time student.

Even though she is busy, the benefits a community member can receive from donated funds leaves Tryon with a good feeling.

"It feels great actually," Tryon said. "The Salvation Army has been around for many years, and they just continue to do good things for the community."

Those who stop and talk near the red kettle is Tryon's favorite part.

"The conversations that I have been able to have with people, a lot of people will stop and talk to you," she said. "People will stop and say how the Salvation Army has helped them."

If interested in volunteering or a paid position, contact Senta Kuchar at skuchar2001@hotmail.com, or call (785) 621-4991.