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Volunteers keep the bells ringing

By Caitlin Rickard crickard@lebanondemocrat.com • Dec 17, 2015 at 5:38 PM

The Salvation Army of Wilson County has begun their bell ringing for the 2013 Christmas season.

So far, numerous churches, civic groups, Cub scouts, youth groups and volunteers have helped the organization keep the bells ringing.

This year, the organization will have fewer days to rings the bells, due to a shortened time between Thanksgiving and Christmas, but Sergeant Tom Freeman with the local Salvation Army branch is hopeful they will be able to match last year’s donation amount, especially with the possibility to donate on the internet, which could offset the loss at the red kettle sites.

A Christmas tradition since 1891, the Red Kettle program is a primary funding source for supporting Salvation Army programs throughout Wilson County, including emergency food and housing, disaster services, community care, seasonal camps for children and more.

Each year, the Wilson County Salvation Army helps hundreds of homeless families and others in need.

Christmas coordinator Marie Wulfing said last week they received a call from a couple that was sleeping in their car and working at local businesses during the day. Wulfing said the family was given shelter at a local hotel for five nights until they were paid.

The organization also takes requests and referrals from local schools at Christmas time.

Ruth Cardwell, long-standing board member of the Salvation Army, takes the requests after guidance counselors send applications to families that are homeless or facing hard times.

Wulfing also said she’s amazed to see the gifts people buy for local children.

“We put angels on the tree at Walmart and people shop for those children. Some people buy bikes and very expensive gifts, it’s humbling to see how generous people are,” Wulfing said.

She said they delivered more than 2,000 gifts last year and that they were expecting to help hundred of children not covered by other programs this year. 

The Salvation Army partners with Christmas for All and Big Brothers, Big Sisters of Mt. Juliet in efforts to help children have a better Christmas.

“We will work until Christmas Eve, and we hope to cover all of our families who are now on the wait list,” Wulfing said.

Though their presence is seen year-round, the organization delivers food to more than 500 families and senior citizens during the holidays. Wulfing said each year they distribute more than $28,000 in food to those in need in Wilson County.

The organization also assists with those who are looking for jobs by helping with gas and transportation to job interviews.

Wulfing said the organization continues to reach out to children in the Upton Heights neighborhood by offering art, Bible and sports programs throughout the year. Volunteers also offer weekly classes to the elderly at local nursing homes.

Earlier this year in May, the Salvation Army opened The Roast, a coffee shop that offers music, coffee and free wifi, on South Maple Street in Lebanon. It is open 6 p.m. until midnight on Friday and Saturday nights.

Wulfing said donations are what will continue to allow the Salvation Army offer these programs and possibly expand even further in 2014.

So far, Wulfing said the bell ringing season has been a success thanks to the help of volunteers and there is still time to sign up for “Ring the Bell for Change,” by calling Freeman at 615-874-9555. 

To sign up to adopt an angel, call Wulfing at 615-579-2457.

Fore more information or ways to serve, visit the Salvation Army website at wilsoncountysalvationarmy.com.

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