EDWARDSVILLE – Asked why he volunteered to ring a Salvation Army bell Tuesday, Jim Rhoden didn't mention the shortage of ringers this year – he didn't even know about it.
Nor did he wax poetic about the spiritual rewards of the effort. No, Rhoden had a simpler reason for leaving a warm home and standing in the cold outside Kmart for four hours.
My wife wanted me out of the house, he quipped.
Rhoden is what Lt. Sharon Tressler called a spontaneous volunteer, someone who calls or stops by the Army's headquarters on South Pennsylvania Avenue and offers to try a stint with the iconic kettles.
And the Wilkes-Barre Corps is in serious need of volunteers this year, despite an appeal for help earlier this month, before the bells started jangling.
I'm not sure what it is this year, Tressler said. People don't seem to be contacting us.
Coverage of the shortage earlier this month in press and on TV drummed up a few volunteers, Tressler said, but not enough to man all 23 stands outside area businesses every day.
The seasonal fundraising is important to the Salvation Army.
The Wilkes-Barre Corps hopes to raise $162,000 from this year's campaign to benefit the organization's annual children's toy and holiday dinner giveaways, with remaining proceeds benefiting the charity's regular functions throughout the year. They include: food pantries, clothing vouchers, children's outreach and emergency and disaster service work.
More than 600 families comprising more than 2,100 individuals and 1,100 children are helped with kettle drive proceeds.
On a regular basis daily we have about 11 people who have committed to the whole season, Tressler said. We do have some people from the community who contacted us and do two or three hours at a time, but they are pretty random, so we're still not able to cover all the stands.
Rhoden, of Forty Fort, joked about the requirements to hold the post. I have a skill, he said, smiling, I can ring a bell.
And he landed his first donor before he had even donned the red Salvation Army apron. Parker Eddy, age 2 ½ seemed to revel in placing coins into the kettle one at a time, drawing out his donation.
Looks like I'm pretty good at this, Rhoden said with another grin, though he wouldn't commit to more than one shift.
If I survive, I'll think about it.
Those interested in volunteering should call the Salvation Army at 824-8741.