Someone ringing a bell as shoppers pause to place money in a Salvation Army kettle is a classic scene during the Christmas season.
But that picturesque moment relies not only on people providing donations, it also depends on having volunteers to ring those bells.
"Our struggle every year is finding volunteers to help us," Salvation Army Capt. Benjamin Deuel said.
He said the local Salvation Army has a $150,000 goal for its Red Kettle program this season. But the amount of money the program raises is only part of the formula.
"We not only have to look at reaching that goal, but how much money is needed to raise the money," Deuel said. "We need a great portion of bell ringers to be volunteers, which guarantees the public that what goes into the kettle is given to the community."
It requires 7,700 hours of manning the bell posts in order to fill all the scheduled locations in the Shoals throughout the Christmas season, he said.
"Right now, we only have 340 hours that are manned," Deuel said.
Last year, the Red Kettle program raised $136,000, he said. However, some $38,000 went toward paying workers.
"While it is a blessing to be able to provide somebody with a job, we want as much of that money as possible going back to the community," Deuel said.
He added volunteers typically raise more money than employees. The reason for that is the public is able to pick up on that volunteer mentality.
"The way you ring that bell and interact with the community — the public can often tell a difference," Deuel said. "I try to reiterate to our bell ringers every day that you never know the impact you're going to have on somebody. You can change somebody's life."
The Salvation Army asks volunteers to fill two-hour slots, Deuel said. He said some families make it a family event by volunteering together.
Deuel said volunteering often encourages others to get involved when they see friends, neighbors and co-workers doing so.
"And it's fun," he said. "It's not difficult and you're interacting with people."
This also is a way to provide charitable work if you don't have funds to assist a program.
"If you don't have money to adopt an angel or put money in the bucket, you've donated your time," Deuel said.
This is the fourth year that Deuel and Salvation Army Capt. Wendy Deuel have been in the Shoals.
"The Salvation Army raised $118,000 the year before we arrived," he said. "For about 4 to 5 months after we got here, we got to see the community and got to witness its generosity. The first year, we raised $154,000 and decreased expenses by about 13 to 14 percent."
That was in 2016. Since then, the Kettle program has raised $138,000 in 2017 and $136,000 last year, Benjamin Deuel said.
"I've kept $150,000 as the goal because I know we can do it, because we've done it," he said.
Anyone interested in volunteering to be a ringer can do so at registertoring.com. Fill in your zip code or city and state and you can select the date, location and time slot from there.
You then add your phone number or email and will be provided with information.
Once you arrive at the bell-ringing station, someone will be there to give you a bell, a bucket and an apron.