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Belles ring for charity group

Mandi Stirone | Monday, December 10, 2007

Saint Mary’s students got in the Christmas spirit by volunteering at the University Park Mall this weekend, ringing Salvation Army’s famous little bell for the “Red Kettle Campaign.”

The first “Bells for Belles” took place Dec. 1 and continued this past Saturday. Community members signed up with the Office for Civic and Social Engagement (OCSE) and took hour-long shifts either alone or with a club or cause.

“This past Saturday we had about twenty people participate in the bell ringing at the UP Mall, in front of Macy’s,” OSCE director Carrie Call said. As of Wednesday, there were 12 people signed up with one spot still open, she said

So far the success of “Bells for Belles” has looked promising, Call said. She hopes that with the support she has received from the student body, the program will be able to continue to become an annual event.

“The response was very positive, so I hope to do it every year,” Call said.

“Bells for Belles” is run entirely through OCSE, with no student organization, Call said. It is unaffiliated with any club on campus, she added. They are working specifically through the Salvation Army.

“The Salvation Army, an evangelical part of the universal Christian church, has been supporting those in need in His name without discrimination since 1865,” according to ringbells.org, the official Web site of the “Red Kettle Campaign.”

After discovering how easy it is to sign up for the campaign, Call decided to make it available to the Saint Mary’s community, she said.

“I thought that it would be an easy, fun way for us to help make a difference. Our students consistently look for ways to give back to the community, and this was a particularly easy one,” Call said.

The “Red Kettle Campaign,” is an important fundraiser for the Saint Mary’s community to support, Call said. The campaign, which has been in existence since 1891, is the Salvation Army’s “most prominent fundraiser,” according to ringbells.org.

“The Red Kettle Christmas Campaign enables the Army to provide food, toys and clothing to over six million people during the Christmas season and helps more than 34 million Americans recovering from all kinds of personal disasters nationwide,” the Web site said. It brought in over $100 million in 2004.

“The Salvation Army depends on the Red Kettle campaign for the bulk of their money raised for the year. I think it’s important for us to support this as they do wonderful work in the community,” Call said.

Another reason for Saint Mary’s participation this year is exposure.

“It gets the faces of students, faculty and staff out into the community so people can see that we care about service as a college,” she said.

Students participate for a variety of reasons – from clubs to dorm section events, Call said. Even College staff get involved. Saint Mary’s Director of Institutional Research Jessica Ickes took a shift along with her husband, Call said.

Resident Assistant Jackie Rothschild took part of her section in Regina Hall to work an hour shift.

“We wanted to do a service project with the section,” she said. “We had five girls come.”

For junior Emily Tarnacki, it was a rewarding experience.

“I did it to get into the holiday spirit, and I thought it was for a good cause,” she said. “I really enjoyed myself and everyone was friendly and generous. I would definitely do it again next year.”