ALTON, IL (KPLR) – Citizens in the Alton area have a tall order to fill to protect folks in need this holiday season.
The Salvation Army has a goal of raising $85,000 during this year’s bell ringing campaign.
Greg Gelzinnis is in charge of the bell ringers, “It’s one of the largest single fund raising efforts of the salvation army globally but certainly here in the Alton area as well.”
Money raised by volunteer bell ringers accounts for 1/3 of the annual budget.
As many as 350 families have already signed up for help during the holidays and thousands more will rely on the organization for help in 2017. Salvation Army Lt. Teri Ellison said, “That couple of bucks that five dollars that you throw in helps us throughout the year.”
The Alton location has the only men’s shelter in Madison County. 15 homeless men find a place to stay every night. Kevin Anderson’s life fell apart earlier this year, he lost this job, house and car. That’s when he turned to the Salvation Army. Anderson said, “This time of year probably it’s depressing for a lot of people who don’t have anywhere to go or anywhere to be at for me it’s been a life saver even more than that it’s been a God send.”
All bell ringers are volunteers; they man 14 locations and they could use some help. Greg Gelzinnis added, “To have a volunteer in each one of our locations for each of our time slots takes over 2,000 volunteers.” Anderson said, “This is a place for me it gave me a hope again I’ve got a job and a future ahead of me.” The Salvation Army also has a food pantry and social service programs in Alton.