It's that time of year when you might see your local banker, doctor, lawyer, boss, or insurance salesman standing by a Salvation Army Kettle ringing bells or singing carols. For the last several decades members of local Rotary Clubs have participated in a friendly competition to see which club can raise the most money during the holiday season to support the services of the Salvation Army. To foster the rivalry Craig Fanning, Salvation Army envoy created a traveling "Bell Ringing" trophy upon which he engraves the winning clubs name annually, "Through the years the Soldotna Club has dominated, but Kenai took it away a few years ago and they are determined this year to raise at least one dollar more than Soldotna, but don't count out the Kenai River Soldotna Club, they are the newest club, but continue the faithful tradition of helping us out by volunteering to stand at our Kettles," said Fanning.
According to Fanning the Kettle drive is the Salvation Army's annual fund raiser that funds all their local programs throughout the year. "That includes our holiday assistance programs like the toys we take into Wildwood prison and allow each inmate that wishes to participate the opportunity to choose a toy and a Christmas card for each of his children.
Community volunteers meet later to wrap the chosen toys and mail each gift to its intended child. For some of these men this will be the first time they have ever taken time to think about what their child might want for a gift, and the joy that the children receive knowing that Dad was thinking about them is priceless," he said.
At the Kenai Kettle outside the Carrs/Safeway store Kenai Rotarian Jeanette Desimone was joined by KCHS Rotary Interactors Austin Daly, Melanie Wortham, and Riley Wik,
"It's all about service above self and the Rotary motto starts with the Interact Clubs in our high schools.
They have their own club and activities, but join us for projects such as the annual bell ringing which really makes it fun," said Desimone. "I like hanging out with my friends, having fun, and at the same time knowing you're contributing to help those who find themselves in hard times," said Daly.
Fanning says that the overall Rotary effort is responsible for more than one third of the total funds raised through the Kettle drive, "These are the leaders of our community and when people see them standing at the Kettle its special and encourages giving. I think the Soldotna Club is so successful because they get the word out that you can make a gift or annual contribution to the Salvation Army at the kettle by writing a check and dropping it in and of course that ads to the that club's total.
We really appreciate what Rotary does for the Thanksgiving dinner and the Kettle drive," he said.
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