A benevolent bell toll

Salvation Army's Kettle Drive raises money for those in need

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The nobility behind the Salvation Army Kettle Drive isn't lost on Tom Cramer. Still, he said there are more reasons behind him working the kettle, soliciting donations than it merely being a worthwhile cause.

As he stood by the kettle recently, fighting off numbness in his toes, Cramer said he had a special interest in the Salvation Army.

Cramer was giving back, he said. Giving what he could to an organization that he is forever indebted to, he said.

In short, he was volunteering his time to a group that helped him find his sobriety.

Cramer and other volunteers have been giving back and lending a hand to the Salvation Army by bundling up, ringing a bell and asking for a little pocket change from area shoppers.

The money raised from the drive, 90 percent of which stays in Craig, goes towards people facing short-term crisis. Short term crisis could mean anything from a busted windshield wiper in the middle of winter to a traveller stranded in town without gas or, as in Cramer's case, someone looking to kick drug addiction.

Last year, the drive raised more than $6,000. As of Dec. 15, the drive had raised just over $3,700.

That's money used to help people find life all over again.

This year's drive continues until Christmas Eve. From Dec. 22 to 24, a Kettle Drive stand will be stationed at K-Mart and City Market.

"I really have no one signed up for the 22nd, 23rd and 24th," the drive's coordinator LuAnn Kline said. "I could really use volunteers for that weekend for sure."

Cramer and his wife, Jessie Cramer, were working into their second shift Thursday night on Yampa Ave.

Standing under a street light huddled next to each other, they joked that they brought in more money last year because they had the help of their children's singing.

Shirley Simpson, an ex-board member for the Communities Overcoming Meth Abuse organization, showed up to relieve the Cramers.

"Between C.O.M.A. and the Salvation Army, we try to provide a service for those in need," Simpson said. "There's no better time than now to do that."

The Cramers were headed off to celebrate recovery together, something they recognize as owing partially to the Salvation Army.

"I help out any way I can," Tom Cramer said.

John Henry can be reached at 824-7031, ext. 209, or jhenry@craigdailypress.com.

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