Vigorous bell ringing from Salvation Army volunteers at stores around Craig seems to have worked again.
According to Lou Ann Kline, local organizer of the fund-raising event, the agency collected a total of $5,165 this year. That's an increase from last year's collections of about $4,500.
"It's really exciting," Kline said.
This year's bell ringing campaign, which ended last weekend, saw 88 volunteers who donated an excess of 100 hours. Salvation Army officials usually expect to receive about $49 in donations for each hour of bell ringing.
Ninety percent of the money collected is used for crisis support and emergency assistance in Moffat County, with 10 percent going to the Denver Chapter, where it is used for the same purposes.
The local Salvation Army campaign is run by volunteer efforts. None of those dollars goes toward administration costs.
Money collected outside of Craig stores for the last four weeks is distributed though social services in the form of vouchers.
Salvation Army money is last-resort emergency funding that is only available to each person once in a 12-month period. Residents can apply for the funding though social services or Love, Inc. for funding up to $100.
Kline was impressed by the dedication of volunteers this holiday season. Bell-ringing has been a tradition in Craig since 1997.
"There are people out there who just enjoy doing it," she said.
One family donates a whole day worth of time by sharing shifts. Others such as service groups, non-profits and local individuals come back year after year.
This holiday season marks the sixth year for volunteer Laura Willems. The experience is usually a positive one that keeps her and son Justin ringing the bell year after year.
"People were very friendly this year," Willems said. "Even the people who weren't able to donate stopped by to talk."
Kline and her daughter also enjoy ringing the bell each year. Kline's fondest memories are when children donate money.
"They stuff their pennies in there and try to sneak off with a peppermint candy," she said. "The kids just like to be able to give."
Funds from last year helped 32 people and ran out in September. There are no income guidelines for the money, it is based on need. It's used in wide range of emergencies from needy travelers passing through Moffat County to those alleviating short-term predicaments such as looming gas or electric bills that can't be paid.
With people donating more money this year, local volunteers hope the dollars can stretch even further.
"I was talking to the pastor wondering if we would collect more donations this year than last year," Kline said of pastor Brian Haynes of The First Baptist Church in Craig where's she works as a secretary. "He said, 'I hope so, because it certainly can be used.'"