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Shortage of Salvation Army Bell Ringers Threatening Red Kettle Funds

By Geena Martinez
NewsWest 9

ODESSA - A shortage of bell ringers this Christmas season has a local Salvation Army group scrambling to find help.

The ringers help bring in much needed funds to assist the community, but the Odessa Salvation Army said the shortage could cut their donations in half this year.

The red kettles and red bells are a staple of the holiday season, but this year not as many bells are ringing in the Basin.

"This year I only received eight applications for bells ringers," Lt. Joe Contreras said.

Contreras said the organization is struggling to find help so they can help others.

Right now they only have six bell ringers. They usually have around 30 ringers for the holidays.

We're told the shortage will drastically affect their biggest fundraiser of the year.

"We're gonna raise about $60,000 where as last year they raised about $120,000 so right now, we're basically cut in half," Contreras said.

The red kettle funds help pay for Christmas toys, food at the lodge and other community assistance throughout the year.

But without enough ringers, the Salvation Army is being forced to cut back their hours to collect donations.

"This is the heart of it all so for us to be down like we are, it's really hurting and effecting us," Contreras said.

Andy Ortiz has been a bell ringer for two seasons.

"Salvation Army gave me a hand and made Christmas for my kids and it's time for me to help them give back to the community," Ortiz said.

He's hoping others will donate their time and pay it forward.

"It is real sad to wake up Christmas and you don't have nothing under the tree for the kids," Ortiz said.

And Contreras is staying optimistic and hoping for the same.

"I keep praying and looking for god to provide for a Christmas miracle this year," he said. "Give 'em a kettle and a bell and let 'em ring."

If you'd like to be a bell ringer or if you'd like to donate money, you can call the Odessa Salvation Army at 432-332-0738.

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