Salvation Army begins holiday bell ringing

Joann Summerland, a Salvation Army volunteer, rings the bell to start the kettle drive outside the Big Lots store in the Gateway Shopping Center in Front Royal on Monday. Front Royal's Salvation Army plans to have bell ringers at the Big Lots location and also at Wal-Mart througout the Christmas season. Rich Cooley/Daily

FRONT ROYAL – Bells, in the hands of Salvation Army volunteers, are already ringing in the holiday season.

The annual bell ringing began Nov. 13 in Luray and last Friday at Big Lots in Front Royal. On Black Friday, bell ringers and donation collection kettles will be stationed in front of Wal-Mart stores in Front Royal and Luray.

More volunteers are still needed to ring bells and man the donation stations, said Capt. Beth Forrer of the Front Royal Salvation Army.

“We want to be here to support the community and hopefully they can count on us to do our very best,” Forrer said.

Last year the Front Royal Salvation Army raised raised $31,619. This year the goal is $30,000.

The group hires bell ringers for $7.50 an hour, and Forrer said more volunteers are needed, especially at Big Lots, to  cover shifts of at least four hours.

Forrer said they will hire 10-15 temporary workers and get additional help from volunteer groups. The bell ringing will run until Dec. 24.

In addition to bell ringing, the Salvation Army has also began a food drive, which started in October, and more food donations are needed.

Forrer said the organization is preparing for a community Thanksgiving dinner to be held from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. This dinner will be open to the public and is held at the Front Royal Salvation Army, 357 Cloud St., Front Royal.

“Our goal is for folks that may live alone and aren’t really going to be celebrating on Thanksgiving Day to come and have a chance for them to have a meal,” Forrer said, “People can have a place to come and be thankful.”

In addition to today’s dinner, about 68 families will receive food bags for the holiday season to take home.

The Salvation Army has also been collecting turkeys to distribute for Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Last year, they received about 80 turkeys between the two holidays, Forrer said.

“This year, we are needing for 70 for Thanksgiving and would like to see another 40 to 80 families at Christmas,” Forrer added.

The Salvation Army is also looking toward the Christmas holiday season with its annual Angel Tree program has already begun. The public can pick up a name of a child at the Front Royal Salvation Army and buy gifts for the child to have for Christmas.

Though applications for participating children were due in October, a late registration day will be held at the Salvation Army from 1 to 4 p.m. on Dec. 1 and 3.

Forrer said that Christmas is a major fundraising time for the group and they hope the public supports them so they can continue to give back to the community.

For more information, contact the Front Royal Salvation Army:  357 Cloud St.,  540-635-4020, or  online

Contact staff writer Kaley Toy at 540-465-5137 ext. 176, or