Bells will soon be ringing in and around Elgin.
The Salvation Army Elgin Corps kicked off their annual Christmas Red Kettle campaign Thursday at the Gail Borden Library.
“When you think of Christmas, you think of those iconic red kettles and bell ringers,” Elgin Corps Captain Linnea Forney said. “Kettles are critical to our success. It’s our one and only fundraiser.”
Forney, who, along with her husband Rich, has been a captain in Elgin for 12 years, knows how important the Salvation Army’s work can be for families around the holidays.
“My mother was one of 13 kids, and the only way any of them got Christmas toys was from the Salvation Army,” she said. “And many times they only way they got meals was through the Salvation Army.”
The Elgin Corps’ goal is to raise $250,000 this holiday season through their red kettles. And while people ringing bells outside of stores is still their bread and butter, the kettles are the centerpiece of a number of different fundraising challenges this year.
Thursday the Army unveiled the contestants in their Design-A-Kettle challenge. Ten kettles decorated by local groups and businesses will be on display on the second floor of the library through December 15, where visitors can vote for their favorite and make donations via a QR code, or just drop money in the old fashioned way. The kettle with the combination of most votes, number of donations and total money will be crowned the winner.
Local colleges will also vie for the title of top fundraiser as students from Judson University and Elgin Community College will ring bells on four days in November to see who can raise the most money. Otto Engineering will donate $5,000 to the winning school.
There’s also a high school challenge, which was won by St. Edward Central Catholic High School last year.
Virtual Red Kettles will be set up by area businesses so employees, customers and vendors can easily make donations online. Companies and organizations are also encouraged to take part in the “Ring for 8, Feel Great!” bell-ringing program, where groups can take eight hour shifts at one of the kettle locations in Elgin, South Elgin, Carpentersville, Dundee, Algonquin, Hoffman Estates, Barrington and Schaumburg.
Mayor David Kaptain lauded the work the Salvation Army does in Elgin and said the city shares the same goal of providing for the basic needs of its residents.
“If we can’t help the least of us, we can’t help the most of us,” Kaptain said.
Forney thanked the volunteers and companies that support the Corps during the holiday campaign.
“We need volunteers to help us do what we do,” she said. “We love what we do and we love the people who help us.”
Anyone interested in volunteering or participating in any way can visit centralusa.salvationarmy.org/elgin/.