By Alyssa Schnugg
With the holidays just around the corner, Oxford is quickly turning into a Christmas wonderland. Soon, bell ringers from the Salvation Army will be standing in front of local stores in hopes of hearing the sound of change being dropped into their red kettles.
While the sound of their bells is often what rings in the Christmas season for many, the annual fundraiser for Salvation Army allows the organization to bring hope to tens of thousands throughout the year.
“Our annual kettle drive is our largest fundraiser of the year,” said Miranda Mansell, service center director for the Salvation Army in Oxford. “It is very dependent on community support – from those volunteering to ring the bell to those who donate.”
The funds are used to help Oxford residents who are struggling, whether they need assistance with a utility bill or clothes and furniture after their home burned in a fire or was lost to a natural disaster. Regionally, some of the funds help to keep the Salvation Army Homeless Shelter in Tupelo running.
“The donations help ensure all the services we are able to provide locally, regionally and nationwide continue,” Mansell said.
The bell ringers will start showing up at the Oxford Walmart and Kroger entrances on Black Friday, from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday until Christmas Eve.
To keep the bells ringing, Mansell said volunteers are badly needed.
Individuals and groups can sign up for two-hour shifts. Children are welcome but must be accompanied by an adult. Walmart and Kroger will have ringers and both of their entrances.
“If a large group is interested in volunteering, we would love for them to ‘adopt’ a day,” Mansell said. “It would take five people, each taking a two-hour shift.”
Signing up to be a bell ringer is done online through the Salvation Army’s Facebook page or via the following direct links:
- Kroger (Main Entrance) – https://www.signupgenius.com/go/9040D4CA8AA22A6F85-bell
- Kroger (Pharmacy Entrance) – https://www.signupgenius.com/go/9040D4CA8AA22A6F85-bell1
- Wal-Mart (Market Entrance) – https://www.signupgenius.com/go/9040D4CA8AA22A6F85-bell2
- Wal-Mart (Pharmacy Entrance) – https://www.signupgenius.com/go/9040D4CA8AA22A6F85-bell3
Volunteers can choose the day, time and location of where they’d like to ring the bell. While the shifts are broken up into two-hour shifts, Mansell said volunteers are welcome to volunteer for more than one consecutive shift or break them up throughout the week.
Volunteers can also call the Oxford Salvation Army store at 662-236-2260 to sign up over the phone.
While the annual kettle drive relies heavily on volunteers, there are a handful of paid, part-time positions for bell ringers to fill in the gaps of volunteers.
“People can apply for those positions on our Facebook page as well, or call the store,” Mansell said. “We know a vast amount of the community look for ways to give back, especially this time of year. We have a pile of volunteer opportunities during the holiday season and throughout the year.”
Other organizations are also looking for volunteers this holiday season and the LOU Volunteer Connection can help residents connect with a meaningful volunteer opportunity.
“At the moment we are strongly promoting seasonal opportunities,” said Marlee Carpenter, volunteer coordinator.
Organizations seeking volunteers for their holiday events include the Harvest Angel and Holly Jolly Market at the Oxford Community Market; The Christmas Store by the Oxford-Ole Miss Rotary Club and Interfaith Compassion Ministry; Daffodil planting with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, as well as the Salvation Army’s Kettle Fundraiser.
“Of course, there are always other opportunities available that aren’t as festive but are definitely just as rewarding – Meals on Wheels, Memory Makers, YAC, Oxford Film Fest and Parent Academy,” Carpenter said.
The LOU Volunteer Connection is a re-brand of Volunteer Oxford that partners with RSVP that serves volunteers 55 and older, while the Volunteer Connection serves the student population and community volunteers who are 55 and younger.
The LOU Volunteer Connection’s website lists volunteer opportunities and information on how to contact organizations to volunteer and allows groups and nonprofits to post volunteer opportunities.