Bell ringers needed as Red Kettle campaign kicks off

PLATTSBURGH, N.Y. (WCAX) It's the sound of the season-- bells ringing. The Salvation Army Red Kettle campaign kicked off Friday but do you know where your dollars are going? Our Kelly O'Brien breaks down the donations and why there is such a need in the North Country.

A pep in his step and a bell in his hand. Paul Clark has been a bell ringer for the Salvation Army for the last eight years.

"The organization is a great organization, they really help the community," he said.

Clark volunteers four hours of his day every day for all 38 days of the Red Kettle Campaign.

Fridays and Saturdays he sees more donations.

"Usually the dollars go in pretty good, sometimes fives go in real good," Clark said.

But where do those dollars go?

"It's our bread and butter. It's what we live off of the rest of the year. It is by far the biggest fundraiser we do," said Maj. Robin Hager of the Salvation Army.

And you can see it at the Salvation Army's soup kitchen three days a week where you'll see a long line of folks living off those donations.

"For whatever reason, 13,000 people have walked through this door this year," Hager said.

"We're seeing that the numbers of people asking for help has greatly increased over the last several years," said John Bernardi of the United Way of the Adirondacks.

When you break it down, the cost for one person to eat at the soup kitchen breaks down to $5.02.

"Without their donations, our soup kitchen would not happen," Hager said.

"Private dollars, private donations, volunteer time, faith-based nonprofits is extraordinarily important for us to maintain this quality of life," Bernardi said.

That money -- never leaves the North Country.

"We serve Clinton County so it goes back out to Clinton County," Hager said.

Funding to feed families all year-round.

If you want to volunteer:

- Need to be 16 years or older to volunteer by yourself, otherwise must be accompanied by an adult

- 4-hour minimum

- Can split hours up between groups (work, etc.)

- Apply at location (4804 S. Catherine St. Plattsburgh, NY) or call 518-561-2951

The Red Kettle Campaign runs through Christmas Eve. There is no ringing on Sundays.