“This is a profound Christmas experience,” said Rick Jubeck, who was one of the first bell ringers at the Salvation Army’s Red Kettle Kickoff event Friday. “For anyone who rings a bell at Christmas, every other Christmas will never be the same unless you ring a bell.”
Every year from just before Thanksgiving to Christmas Eve, “bell ringers” sign up to stand next to a red kettle outside stores or shopping centers and ring a bell. The kettles collect funds that the Salvation Army uses throughout the year to support local programs.
This year, the local goal is $250,000.
Just as traditional as the campaign is the kickoff, which is more of a competition by college alumni. At the kickoff held at Kroger at 2801 Washington Road, supporters from Georgia Southern University, Augusta University, the University of Georgia and the Marines set up separate tents and kettles to raise the most money during the next seven hours.
Last year, the UGA tent got the coveted Kettle Kickoff Trophy.
Rachel Rhodes-Dyar, a Georgia Southern alum who now lives in the Augusta area, comes for the kickoff every year and said the ringers get pretty competitive and occasionally trash talk.
“If you’ve never done this, you need to because it’s a hoot,” she said as she steadily rang the bell while decked out in her school’s blue and gold.
Former Augusta Mayor Deke Copenhaver rang for UGA even though he is also a former AU student.
“I look forward to this every year,” he said. “It’s about giving back.”
Starting today, ringers and kettles will begin appearing throughout the greater Augusta area including Aiken, Columbia and Burke counties.
Article from The Augusta Chronicle