Salvation Army red kettles bring jobs, help to those in need
By Sarah Campbell
SALISBURY - Before Randy Reynolds even stepped into Kmart to do a little Black Friday shopping, he dropped several folded dollar bills into the red Salvation Army kettle outside.
The Salisbury resident said the nonprofit organization helped him out when he was laid off in February and now that he's back on his feet, he's trying to pay it forward.
"There are always people out there who could use help, people who are in worse shape than you are," Reynolds said.
As cashiers inside the store rang up everything from big-screen televisions to clothing, Briana Hurlocker stood outside the store beside the kettle ringing a bell.
The familiar sound that beckons shoppers to donate spare change is a sign that the Christmas season is officially under way.
Hurlocker had been unemployed until she landed the bell-ringer gig for the Salvation Army.
She said it came just in time to buy Christmas presents for her 2-year-old daughter, Isabella.
"If I could afford to volunteer I would," she said.
Hurlocker is hoping that by the time her seasonal job ends, she'll have landed full-time employment.
But for now, she enjoys spending up to 10 hours a day standing outside of local stores, greeting those who come in with a friendly smile and a warm hello.
She knows the money she's helping to raise will go to those in need, with 83 cents of each dollar going directly to fund programs.
The Salvation Army of Rowan County helps local residents by providing everything from food to spiritual guidance.
The organization also provides Christmas presents to needy families.
China Grove resident Linda Porter said her children were benefactors of such gifts several years ago when her husband was out of work.
"When I have it, I always give to the Salvation Army because I know what they do firsthand," she said Friday after dropping some money into the kettle. "The Salvation Army is one of the best charitable organizations out there. They really help people who need help."
Not far behind Porter was 5-year-old Clayton Myers, who begged his parents, Joe and Sierra, for money to add to the kettle.
"I like helping people," he said after slowly placing one coin at a time through the kettle's open slot.
Joe said the family is always willing to donate to the Salvation Army because he knows just how much the group does for the community.
"My aunt has worked there for years," he said.
Hurlocker said she's enjoyed being a bell ringer because she gets to meet a lot of different people.
One of those people out Friday was Bill Canup of East Spencer.
"I always donate," he said before promising Hurlocker he'd stop back by to visit with her before Christmas.
"I love it because I'm really good with people so I get to have fun while doing something good," she said.
Contact reporter Sarah Campbell at 704-797-7683.