Simple question started 10-year tradition

Wednesday, December 6, 2017
Traci Taylor of McCook, right, coordinates the schedule of Salvation Army bell ringers, whose roster includes Jerry and Frani Chambers, also of McCook, bell ringers for 10 and 9 years respectively.
Connie Jo Discoe/McCook Gazette

McCOOK, Neb. — It was a simple question — “Do you need help?” — that was the start of a now 10-year tradition for a McCook man as a Salvation Army bell ringer at Christmas time.

Jerry Chambers said it was 10 years ago that he asked Pastor John Albrecht, the bell ringer at the door of a McCook business, “Do you need help?,” and Pastor Albrecht took Jerry up on his offer. “Wow. I think it was the very next day, I was ringing a bell,” Jerry said recently.

With his first year under his belt, Jerry’s wife, Frani rang bells with him the next year, and the couple has continued the tradition since.

Jerry and Frani say they ring bells because the money dropped into the iconic red kettles goes to a good cause. Bell ringer coordinator Traci Taylor says that more than 90 percent of the money donated to McCook’s bell ringing campaign stays local.

Traci said that the Salvation Army partners with the Red Willow County Ministerial Association to sponsor the bell ringing campaign each year and to be care-takers of the campaign funds.

Their goal for 2017 is $17,000. “Last year, we raised $16,250.15,” “Traci said. She explains the goal, “A target amount is set for our region each year, and if we raise or exceed that amount, 100 percent of the funds is used in our area, to help those who are less fortunate.”

Red kettle funds raised in McCook are used in McCook and throughout Red Willow County and Southwest Nebraska to fund local causes, including a back-to-school backpack and school supply program. “The backpack program is our ‘big money’ project each year,” Traci said.

Other causes that utilize the funds are heating and cooling assistance, mileage assistance to out-of-town doctor appointments and help with shelter and food needs.

This is the sixth year that Traci has coordinated the bell-ringers’ schedules, and she’s looking to fill out this year’s schedule. She needs bell ringers from Friday, Dec. 8, through Saturday, Dec. 23. Give her a call, (308) 350-0904, and ask her, “Do you need help?”

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