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Red Kettle donations down 50 percent; More bell ringers needed

Salvation Army Red Kettle Coordinator Mim Maas said the bell-ringing campaign in Wadena took in about $3,000 in donations during the holiday season, representing half of comparable totals from recent years.

"It was kind of a trend this year all over," Maas said. "Down in the Cities and everywhere, this year was half."

Maas said a shortage of bell ringers was the cause for the steep drop in fundraising. About 25 people volunteered from Wadena in 2012, Maas said, down from about 48 people last year.

Despite the numbers, bell ringer Dana Patsie of Mahube-Otwa, who stood post outside Walmart, said there was still impressive support shown from citizens in Wadena.

Maas was quick to praise the good Samaritans who still helped. Among many others, she gave a special thank you to the Wadena Lions Club, Wadena Fire Department, Wadena-Deer Creek cheerleaders, staff at Walmart and Super One, and a group of WDC high school band students who served as both bell ringers and musical accompanists during an event at An Open Book in Wadena.

There was another group of WDC students who helped with fundraising, however. Around 200 elementary students took part in a one-day donation drive Dec. 22, during which they bought the privilege of wearing a holiday hat to class for a dollar each, said Principal Louis Rutten.

"Kids are thinking of others in need when they participate in this," Rutten said. "It's just another example of WDC students thinking of others."

Maas advised those wishing to volunteer as bell ringers to look for the Salvation Army's advertisements on the radio and elsewhere, starting in October. Potential volunteers can also contact Mim Maas at 218-631-1751.