Spreading Cheer

During last year’s annual Christmas parade in El Campo, Staci Pfeil, left, and son Justin Pfeil, right, join Tammy Rome on the Salvation Army float. Volunteers collected money throughout the holiday season as they manned the bright red kettle. The local Salvation Army unit plans to do this again this year, but Rome says they need volunteers to ring the bell and tend the kettle. Organizations, churches and individuals are invited to help by calling Rome at the El Campo Police Department, 979-543-5311. Time slots can be scheduled to accomodate the working class and students. The only day collections will not be taken will be on Sunday. Also, all money collected will be used for local residents in need.

The Salvation Army, known for helping people in time of need, is looking for volunteers to ring the bell and “tend the kettle,” Tammy Rome said.

Rome, representative of the El Campo Salvation Army Service Unit, has served in that capacity for the past eight years.

For awhile, it was uncertain if bell ringers would be allowed to collect funds for the Salvation Army, because of the coronavirus pandemic.

“We just got the okay with Walmart,” Rome said on Wednesday. “They (Walmart) will allow us to collect there, but we have to take precautions.”

This means bell ringers must wear a face mask and social distance.

As of this week, only one group, the Explorers, had stepped forward to volunteer for a time slot. Rome hopes more will come forward to sign up.

“We need volunteers,” she said. “If your organization wants to volunteer they are welcome.”

Rome is hoping members from such organizations as 4-H clubs, FFA, Anchor Club, National Honor Society and others will volunteer.

Volunteers can choose their hours and days with one exception.

“They can ring the bell any day except Sunday,” Rome said. “Some even do it in the evenings from 5 - 9 p.m. We try to work around everyone’s schedule, because for some it’s hard.”

It can be difficult especially for those who have daytime jobs or other obligations, therefore an evening schedule is a better choice for them.

For those who are hesitant about donating, money collected will remain in El Campo.

“All money taken during this time will stay here and be used for local residents,” Rome said.

In the past, funds have been used for residents who have lost their belongings and home due to a fire or just fell on hard times. The Salvation Army helps with food purchases, lodging, paying some bills, medications and doctor’s co-pays for children and other needs.

There is also a donation center in Bay City to assist Wharton County residents with needs, such as furniture, clothing, bedding and more.

For Rome, she is happy to be a part of what she calls the “kettle season.”

“I love seeing the joy on their faces ... to help a family get out of that bind,” Rome said.

To receive assistance help, one must go by the El Campo Police Department and fill out the proper paperwork to be considered.

Those wishing to volunteer to “ring the bell” should call Rome at the ECPD, 979-543-5311.

“The calendar is wide open,” she said.

The first day for manning the kettle will be Nov. 28, the Saturday after Thanksgiving.

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