Salvation Army Red Kettle funds stay here in Holmes

Salvation Army Red Kettle  funds stay here in Holmes

Image Credit: Dave Mast

A jovial person stands inside the entryway of a store. There is a permanent smile on their face. They are quick to conjure up polite conversation, and in their hand they possess a bell that is constantly ringing. Beside them is a red kettle on a red tripod, where countless coins, paper bills and sometimes an occasional check find their way into the mix.

That scene is one that plays itself out over and over in stores around the nation and right here in Holmes County with volunteers who ring the bell for the Salvation Army’s annual Red Kettle Campaign.

While anyone who shops between the day after Thanksgiving and the day before Christmas has probably seen or heard a Red Kettle volunteer ringing and chatting, they may not realize where the money collecting in the pot goes.

According to Steph Ditmars, a member of the leadership team for Salvation Army Red Kettle Campaign of Holmes County, the money that is donated in Holmes County locations comes right back to the county to benefit people in need who might be struggling to pay a utility bill.

“Most people don’t realize the money that is given to the Salvation Army in those kettles at any of the locations in Holmes County goes right back to Holmes County people,” Ditmars said.

She said all donations are collected and go to the county Salvation Army office, where they are then sent on to Cleveland, where the main office for Salvation Army resides. Those funds are all earmarked to return to Holmes County once the funds are properly recorded.

She said that is how the Salvation Army — through the kindness of the people who give in the county — helps meet needs in Holmes County.

Ditmars said the funds that come back to the county help pay for utility bills and propane expenses for families and individuals who might be struggling to find the financial means to do so.

While Holmes County’s Salvation Army organization meets those needs, Ditmars said the county office isn’t big enough to help pay for rent like other counties might.

However, for those who do get a helping hand from Salvation Army and the kindness of strangers, it is a true blessing to receive some financial relief that keeps the heat on during cold winters.

“I would estimate we help around 150 families and individuals with utilities each year,” Ditmars said. “If there is a financial need, that’s what we are here to meet.”

She said to sign up for aid from Salvation Army, there is a small bit of paperwork, but it is minimal and easy to do. Considering the relief it provides, it is a small price to pay.

While the vision of a bell ringer and the red pot are recognizable to most people, the organization’s office is somewhat of a well-kept secret, according to Ditmars. The office is located at 187 S. Clay St. in Millersburg.

“Even though people might not know where we are and they might not know that our money goes right back into Holmes County, almost everyone knows about the red kettle,” Ditmars said. “It’s really easy to stop by a pot and help someone out by simply dropping in your change.”

Ditmars said while they help families in need in the county, there is a limit of $350 per family per year because the organization wants to spread around the funds.

She said they do take referrals, and they also have developed a relationship with Love In the Name of Christ of Greater Holmes County, which continues to provide referrals.

Ditmars said while Salvation Army isn’t allowed to help with utility reconnects, they help avoid disconnects, which is why she said those who might need help shouldn’t wait until it’s too late and their utilities are shut off.

Anyone who would like to request financial aid may do so by calling Salvation Army of Holmes County at 330-675-5151. The office is open Mondays and Wednesdays from 9-11 a.m. Anyone seeking aid needs to bring a recent utility bill.

Salvation Army does not work with cash, instead providing vouchers that can be presented to the organization, which will in turn submit a check to the utility company.