Local Salvation Army desperate for bell ringers

ATASCADERO — The Atascadero Salvation Army is desperately looking for volunteer bell ringers this holiday season. The organization recently lost 150 volunteers from a church who will not be participating this year. Because of that the Salvation Army had to shut down some local bell ringer locations such as Walgreens. It also looks as if the organization may have to cut down half of its programs for next year because of the projected lack of donations brought in by volunteer bell ringers this holiday season. Check donations are also down. So far, only three have come in said Lynda Bering, a volunteer with the local Atascadero Service Unit of the Salvation Army.

Templeton also has two locations that were closed, the Templeton Markert and the Templeton Post Office, however they do have a kettle inside where you can still donate.

90 percent of the funds collected by the Atascadero Salvation Army remain in the area and help fund programs such as rental assistance, utility assistance, and gas and food cards for community members in need. Paso Robles is also down on volunteers and so is Morro Bay, but not to such a magnitude as Atascadero, Bering said. 

“I heard that they were short on bell ringers,” said Aaron Mill, owner of Mills Construction, as he listened to a local radio station where Bering was letting folks know about the shortage. “I‘d like to do that. It sounded really cool.”

Mills called his foreman on the company’s construction crew and said, “Hey I want you to talk to some of the guys and here is my idea: It’s an 8-hour day and they do 2-hour shifts, if Mills Construction could take a whole day would you guys want to do that? You’d had to want to do it voluntarily, but you’d get paid. Everyone of them was like ‘yeah, that would be great.’”

They had a total of five employees ring the bell at Vons on Wednesday, Nov. 22 

“That was so awesome,” Mills said. “And it felt so good that we did it again on Saturday.”

Bering was touched by the way Mills Construction stepped up and not only volunteered time but also paid employees two days worth of salary to ring the bell at Vons with their family.

“They volunteered to ring the bell instead of work but they got paid,” Mills stressed.

When asked why people should volunteer as a bell ringer, Bering said, “They will get a sense of community, belonging somewhere. I used this service before and I felt a need to give back. A community needs to stick together, to help each other. We help our community and the money stays here.”

The Atascadero Salvation currently has 40 bell ringer spots lefts. Each sign-up is for two hours. The most popular location so far this year is Vons/Give Fitness but there is also a need for bell ringers at the Grocery Outlet location.

To sign up as a bell ringer, contact the local Atascadero office at (805) 610-0853 and ask for Lynda Bering. They are looking to fill spots until Saturday, Dec. 23. To donate to the Atascadero Salvation Army, send a check to the Atascadero Service Unit at 8420 El Camino Real, Unit G and be sure to note ‘Atascadero’ so the money stays local. You may also drop off donations at a Salvation Army kettle at Vons or Grocery Outlet.

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