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The Salvation Army seeks bell ringers for holiday season
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The Salvation Army seeks bell ringers for holiday season

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Holiday season 2020 marks Victor resident Rick Kornoely’s 20th year of ringing the bell for The Salvation Army.

“He is honoring his friend,” said Fidelis Temukum, Ravalli County Service Extension coordinator. “His friend was a bell ringer and when he was dying of cancer. He asked Rick to continue doing this. Rick is honoring the wish of his friend.”

Kornoely said his friend had rung the bells for the Red Kettle program for 28 years.

“My best friend, Big Al, died and I took his spot at Kmart,” he said. “I’ve been doing it ever since.”

The Salvation Army in Hamilton is not ringing bells at Kmart this year, so Kornoely spent eight hours on Wednesday ringing the bell at Super One Foods in Hamilton.

He spent the time greeting shoppers, thanking donors and remember his friend.

“I want to give back and pass it on,” Kornoely said. “Big Al and I both have big feet. We were both hunters and avid fishermen and every year we volunteered to ring bells. I started out in Seattle, fell in love with Montana, fell in love the snow, the state and the people.”

The Salvation Army in Hamilton is taking donations online and in-person through the Red Kettles with bell ringers at five high-traffic businesses in the Bitterroot Valley.

Temukum said he is frustrated with the struggle to find bell ringers this year.

“We can’t even find people to pay to do it,” Temukum said. “We think it is COVID because we’ve never experienced this. We want to hire but no one even wants to ring bells for hire.”

He said the Salvation Army needs volunteers and paid employees. The pay is $9.50 per hour for eight hours a day, 40 hours a week.

Volunteers are asked to work one to two-hour shifts but they can serve for a whole day.

“We love it when a church would sign up for a week in one location and they can take turns with their members as needed,” Temukum said. “We cannot put kettles out until we have someone there. We always keep them until we have someone available then we can set them up.”

This year the Red Kettle donations in the Bitterroot Valley started on Nov. 18 and, if there are ringers, will continue through Dec. 24 at Super 1 Foods (1131 N. 1st St., Hamilton and 39 Stevensville Cutoff Rd # IW, Stevensville), Walgreens (901 N. 1st St., Hamilton), Hamilton’s Marketplace (600 S. 1st St., Hamilton) and Murdoch’s Ranch & Home Supply (1189 S. 1st St., Hamilton).

All the funds donated online or in kettles stay local.

“Everything, every donation stays local,” Temukum said. “The need is great. We did get some funding during this COVID thing but we’re helping more people. We have some money to help people with rental assistance, motels and electricity. We do everything except pay for someone to get an ID or birth certificate because that is government, and we don’t deal with them.”

The Salvation Army in Hamilton has winter coats and gloves available, just go there to pick up what is needed. Laundry is available for one person at a time for free (washer, dryer and laundry soap) by morning appointment. Call 406-210-1453 for an appointment then go to 217 N. 3rd St., Suite B-2, in Hamilton.

Temukum said the number of people The Salvation Army serves in the Bitterroot varies by season.

“This is a crazy season [November – February] for us as we get a lot of people asking for rental assistance,” he said. “We probably have more than 35 people in a week. There is a great need for food, rent and utilities. Many people do not pay their electric bills from January through February because during those months there’s no disconnections.”

The Salvation Army website has a link to a children’s church called Jr. Church for the Northwest Youth Department.

“That is corporate, not us,” Temukum said. “We don’t have a church down here. Missoula does. Kids are welcome to watch online.”

For Christmas, the Angel Tree in the Bitterroot is by Toys for Tots. The Salvation Army also gives gift cards to families and are raising the amount to $50.

“We usually do $25, but this year is different, there are a lot of people in need,” he said. “We also do gift cards for Thanksgiving.”

The Salvation Army’s Red Kettle program began at Christmas in San Francisco in 1891 with a crab pot and the message, “Keep the Pot Boiling.” It helped Salvation Army Captain Joseph McFee provide Christmas dinner to 1,000 poor and destitute community members. Now, across the United States donations to The Salvation Army’s Red Kettle helps the organization serve more than 23 million people in need.

The Salvation Army service organization has a mottos of “Doing the most good,” “Hope is Greater than Fear,” #fightforgood and a Bible verse, "Walk in love. Let the peace of God rule in your hearts." Colossians 3:14.

For help with rent, utilities, food, or clothing, please contact the Salvation Army Hamilton at 406-210-1453. Due to COVID, they are scheduling one-on-one appointments rather than taking walk-ins.

To donate online visit www.HamiltonRedKettle.org. Visit their Facebook page (www.facebook.com/SalvationArmyHamiltonMT/). To volunteer or apply to be a bell ringer for the Red Kettle donations call Temukum at 406-210-1453 or email Fidelis.Temukum@usw.salvationarmy.org.

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Related to this story

Donate to the Turkey Trot Go Fund Me at gofundme.com/272j31sddc. The turkey, Dominic Farrenkopf, is asking people to share it on their social media to spread the message further and help local food banks. 

Mental health can be greatly influenced by anxiety, depression, stress, a pandemic, an election and the longer, darker days of winter but there are resources for support. The Western Montana Mental Health Clinic is available to help. Schedule an appointment that is not a crisis situation by calling 406-532-9101. The National Alliance on Mental Illness has a 24-hour helpline: 800-950-6264.

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