WESTMINSTER, Md. (AP) — Volunteer Mary Maness was standing beside her Salvation Army red kettle when Westminster post office city mail carrier Richard Jones asked her a question.
“Is it Christmas already?” he said.
That was just one of the questions Maness was asked while volunteering her time to ring a bell for donations outside of Giant Food Store in Westminster on Saturday as part of The Salvation Army’s Need Knows No Season giving campaign.
The Salvation Army red kettle will be appearing outside 50 Giant Food Stores in the region on select days in August. The bell ringers were outside the Westminster store Friday and Saturday and will also appear next Friday and Saturday to wrap up the campaign.
Janice Veney, executive director of The Salvation Army Carroll County Service Center, said this was the first time the organization held a Red Kettle Campaign during the summer. The campaign was to show that Giant will support the 2011 Red Kettle Campaign this holiday season at all 174 Giant locations, which will kick off in November, she said.
The Red Kettle campaign is a tradition in the United States that has spread to countries across the world where The Salvation Army collects public contributions outside of businesses during the holiday season to enable the organization to continue its year-round efforts at helping people in need, according to its website.
The money collected during the August campaign will go to the organization helping with direct assistance needs like evictions and utility turn-offs, Veney said.
“Our funds are really, really low,” she said.
Since it is not yet the holiday season, Veney wasn’t sure that many people would donate.
“It’s really good that people are participating,” she said after viewing the nearly-full container Saturday. “It shows that they know there is a need.”
Many Giant customers approached Maness, joking about how confused they were to see a bell ringer in the summer, but also thanked her for being out there and commented that need truly does know no season.
“It’s amazing the number of people who come up and say, `Should I be wrapping presents?”‘ Maness said.
Though it was a muggy and rainy day, Maness said she didn’t mind standing outside for more than four hours. It was a great opportunity to chat and people-watch, she said.
Maness discussed her volunteer duty with donator Susan Thornton, of Westminster.
Thornton said she made a commitment years ago to donate money whenever she saw a bell ringer and Salvation Army red kettle.
“When there are people helping other people, I like to help them by donating,” she said.
Maness said donations ranged from spare change to five dollar bills, and may have included higher-valued bills in some cases. But it wasn’t important how much money people were giving, she said.
“If everyone put a dime in, that would be good,” Maness said.
Information from: Carroll County Times of Westminster, Md., http://www.carrollcounty.com/
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)