As holiday light displays add to the festive sights around town, the spirit of the season can also be heard ringing from volunteers standing in front of the familiar Red Kettle.
This year, more than 160 Cazenovia High School students have donated their time to the Salvation Army, collecting money for the less-fortunate.
“We are always seeking adults and students to join in running this six-week program. The student participation has allowed us to enlarge the scope of the program in Cazenovia,” said Ellen Romagnoli, area coordinator for the Salvation Army Red Kettle Campaign. “It would not be possible without them. They bring a great energy to the task.”
A few weeks ago, students signed up to ring the bell and man the kettle for two-hour shifts in front of Kinney Drugs or Tops Supermarket in Cazenovia.
Romagnoli said some students volunteered for multiple shifts. The hours each student logs is put toward their requisite 10 hours of community service per year.
“It’s an easy activity, and it benefits a lot of people,” said 16-year-old Becky Marris. “It feels good to help out the community.”
Of all the funds raised during the holiday season, 90 percent is returned to the Cazenovia community.
The Salvation Army uses the funds to sponsor programs at CazCares, such as Christmas Baskets, which provides food to 300 local families, and the “ABC” program, which provides apples, bread and carrots for needy families with children during the summer months, in the absence of the school lunch program.
CazCares is also able to purchase backpacks for children through their back-to-school efforts with the funds returned following the Red Kettle Campaigns.
Last year, Cazenovia volunteers for the Salvation Army collected $6,200 during the holidays.
“We could not achieve the success we have seen without the assistance of our whole community. The stores have been patient and generous in allowing us to ring in their lobbies,” Romagnoli said. “Oneida Savings Bank and M&T Bank have helped deposit and count the donations. The high school and churches provide volunteers, along with Katie O’Brien and her students at Cazenovia College. It takes a village to fill a kettle.”
Romagnoli has been with the Salvation Army Red Kettle Campaign for the past seven years. She is assisted by Sherry Kellish and their sons, Joe Romagnoli and Brody Kellish, who were recognized for their efforts last year.
New additions to the local coordination efforts include Sharon Gerber and her daughter Kaitlyn as well as Ann Baroody, who had previously acted as the area coordinator.
First started by William Booth in 1865 in the East End of London, “The Christian Mission” first offered assistance to those who the traditional churches would not accept. Having penned “The Salvation Army” in 1878, Booth then adopted the moniker for his growing pack of supporters. Today, the organization helps more than 30 million people with their many programs that offer comfort and support, as well as community and fellowship. For more information, visit their website, salvationarmyusa.org.
Bell ringers can be found in Cazenovia from 4 to 8 p.m. nightly, at Kinney’s and Tops for the next five weeks.
Pierce Smith is editor of the Cazenovia Republican. He can be reached at 434-8889 ext. 338 or firstname.lastname@example.org.