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By KEVIN KOELLING
PERRY COUNTY – Bells rung at traditional red kettles nationwide last year continued to be heard this year when the Salvation Army sprang into action after Hurricane Sandy.
“The hurricane flooded all our houses,” says a young boy in a video report linked at salvationarmy.org. “It was up to my neck.”
“It’s wonderful to see how the country is coming together for us. What I’ve found through this whole experience is how wonderfully neighbors have come together,” an elderly woman says in the same report, also available at the YouTube channel “Salvation Army Today.”
A Salvation Army representative appears in Thursday’s report.
“To date, the Salvation Army has provided cleanup kits, emotional and spiritual care and more than 1.7 million meals and drinks to affected communities,” she says before offering a plea for donations.
Hurricane Sandy made landfall at 8 p.m. Oct. 29 with record-breaking storm surges, according to media reports. More than 100 people were killed and billions of dollars in damage were reported.
NBC affiliate KETK-TV reported Oct. 31 the Salvation Army was already in its fifth day of feeding and sheltering residents up and down the East Coast who lacked access to power and other basic services.
The organization was also providing food, drinks and emotional and spiritual care to first responders.
“The Salvation Army red kettles have been an American Tradition for over 100 years,” a narrator explains in the YouTube report.
Locally, kettles went up Friday and will be in place at Wal-Mart entrances until Christmas Eve. Kettle Coordinator Randy Roccia is seeking people to ring bells there, encouraging shoppers to help fill them.
School, church and Scouting groups, businesses and any other organizations can assist by getting their members to find places on the schedule, which has openings between 8 a.m. and 10 p.m. each day.
Large donations from businesses or civic organizations are also welcome, Roccia said.
“The Salvation Army, an international movement, is an evangelical part of the universal Christian church,” its mission statement reads. “Its message is based on the Bible. Its ministry is motivated by the love of God. Its mission is to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and to meet man needs in his name without discrimination.”
Roccia sums it up succinctly when he seeks bell-ringers each year.
“We are all in God’s army,” he says.