The bells are ringing! The Salvation Army kicks off the 2017 Red - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

The bells are ringing! The Salvation Army kicks off the 2017 Red Kettle Campaign

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WATERLOO (KWWL) -

The lights are lit and the bells are ringing, sending out cheer and asking for goodwill.

The Salvation Army kicked off their 118th Red Kettle Campaign in the Cedar Valley on Friday.

"To me, it is rewarding because all of the money goes to a good cause," said George Cole, who has been ringing the bell for two holiday seasons.

Cole will spend countless hours in the cold, like many volunteers, to make sure the bell is ringing and people are dropping their spare change, or a few dollars, into the kettle this holiday season.  Because it could make all the difference.

"We have a lady, she tells us she works, but she has three children. She sometimes has to skip her dinner, so that she can make sure she has enough food for her children," said Salvation Army Major Harold Poff, who runs many of the local programs.

Major Poff says it's, unfortunately, a common story for the Cedar Valley families they serve.

"Those are things that ought-not-to-be. I wish I could fix it, but we can't, so all we can do is provide what help we can," said Major Poff.

Which is why every penny in the kettle counts.

"The money that gets dropped in these buckets; last year we raised over a quarter of a million dollars. It is hard to believe you could see that much change and dollar bills, but this community is very generous," said Major Poff.

The change from your wallet will help shelter, feed, and support those in need long after the Christmas trees turn brittle and the ringing of the bells has faded.

To volunteer as a bell ringer, visit redkettle.volunteerlocal.com.  Or to make a donation, visit sawaterloo.org

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