Smiling Kettle Collectors

Salvation Army
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One of the most well-known sounds of the season is the sound of bells ringing outside retail establishments, and while the bells have been ringing, the kettles have been filling up.

The Parkersburg Salvation Army says collections for this year could come close to the record of $126,000, and unlike Charleston, where a fake bill was found in a kettle last weekend, the collections have all been legitimate.

"We do look at them, especially with the larger bills, says Parkersburg commander, Maj. Walter Strong. "We check them to make sure they're legit."

Nationally, some store chains have either limited or eliminated the kettles and bell-ringers from their front doors, but the Parkersburg Salvation Army has found ways to get around those problems.

Locally, Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club have limited the organization to 14 days for its collection campaign.

"We get to pick which 14 days, and we usually choose the best shopping days of the week," Maj. Strong says. "We do Mal-Marts on Saturdays and Sundays."

With some of the chains, the issue is one of soliciting, but Strong believes people respond to a bell-ringer who doesn't ask them for money, and the Salvation Army still needs volunteers for this year's kettle drive.

If you'd like to volunteer, you can call the Parkersburg office at (304)485-4529.