Agency hopes to help hundreds of area families

Published 12:00 am Friday, November 25, 2011

By Nathan Hardin
Employment is constantly ringing in Melinda Cox’s ears.
The Salisbury mother said she enjoys being a bell ringer for the Salvation Army and welcomes Christmastime after a year of employment struggles.
Black Friday kicked off the four-week Red Kettle Campaign for Rowan County.
It’s Cox’s second year ringing the bell and this year her husband, James, who is on disability, is working, too.
“It’s great,” Cox said, “especially when you’re out looking for a job every day and nobody’s hiring.”
Cox said the Salvation Army is hoping to help 700 families this year.
“I enjoyed it last year when little kids would come up and ring the bell,” she said. “They get a joy out of knowing that they’re helping out.”
James Cox has a simple reason for bell ringing this year.
“I’m trying to help get Christmas gifts for my kids,” he said.
In a press release, the Salvation Army said the demand for services is increasing.
“As a result of the prolonged downturn in our economy, demand for The Salvation Army’s services has risen nearly 60 percent in the last year,” said Capt. Jason Smith.
Curt Chambers, missions specialist for the Salvation Army, said this year’s goal is $60,000.
“We’re very grateful to all of our locations that allow us to ring out front,” Chambers said.
For Bolden Waller, bell ringing is about giving back to his community.
“We’re just regular common folks,” he said. “We’ve been blessed. It’s great to just be able to give back to the community.
Waller rang in front of Walmart on Black Friday and said about a third of the people entering the store were donating.
This was Waller’s first year as a bell ringer and he said he’s enjoyed engaging people as they shop for the holidays.
“I’ve always been a giver, as far as supporting charities,” Waller said. “This year I decided I would volunteer and come on down and help others.”
The Salvation Army states that 83 cents out of every dollar given goes directly to fund programs.
More than a dozen red kettles are stationed at businesses such as Walmart, Kmart, Harris Teeter, JCPenny and Magic Mart.