DANE COUNTY (WKOW) -- In just one week, 1,000 Dane County families signed up for the Salvation Army's Christmas assistance program. That's ahead of schedule for this time last year.
This year their red kettle campaign goal is set at $625,000. If they reach it, it would be a record, but they feel they have to increase that goal to match the increase in need.
The sound of bells and the sight or red kettles will soon return to a store near you. Each year your generosity helps to ensure hundreds of Dane County families have a place to stay and a meal to eat throughout the Christmas season.
Salvation Army Development Manager Chris Ziemba says, "We have 44 families on our waiting list for our shelter and then with our warming house we just turned away 27 people which is ten families in the last week."
Ziemba says the need was even more apparent this week after a thousand families registered for their Christmas assistance program Toys for Tots.
Ziemba says, "We have capacity to register 300 families a day so we're looking if we maintain that pace, we'll have well over 4,000-5,000 families registered for our Toys for Tots program."
It's a significant number, slightly higher than what they saw last year, but a number that doesn't surprise anyone at the Dane County shelter.
Ziemba says, "We see people everyday that we're helping with our shelter or our food pantry, it's a consistent thing that people are looking for some kind of help so when the program comes around for Christmas assistance, we know we'll have people turning out for that."
That's why this time of year, the Salvation Army turns to the Dane County community for help whether it's donating toys, cash or time.
Ziemba says, "They feel they're not able to give financially, but if they can just give a few hours and ring a bell at a red kettle, that's also helping."
The red kettle campaign starts November 19th and will run through Christmas Eve.
In Dane County if they don't have someone to ring the bells the kettle won't go out, so it's really important for them that they fill every shift.
If you would like to sign up to be a bell ringer, you can do so at www.ringbells.org. A two-hour shift can go a long ways.
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