Bobby Jackson and a few of her grankids help Rotary Interact member Justin Dahlen fill the Kettle at Fred Meyers.
Silver bells in the cities signal happier holidays for families in need as well as those who volunteer their time to ring those bells for the Salvation Army. Since 1977 the local Salvation Army has had a kettle drive on the Kenai Peninsula to raise funds for their many holiday programs. "This year we'll spend some $20,000 on our Christmas basket, Toy & Joy Angel tree, and prison drop programs and all those funds come from our Kettle drive," says Craig Fanning, Salvation Army commanding officer. The prison drop program is for the children of prisoners in the local area, and not the prisoners themselves explained Fanning. This year volunteers from the Kenai and Soldotna Rotary and Interact Clubs and the Our Lady of Perpetual Help Catholic Church will account for over 20% of the bell ringing effort in the local area. "The volunteers are a huge help for us and the Kettle drive accounts for nearly 25% of our annual budget and totally funds our holiday programs. It's become a Rotary tradition and the Soldotna and Kenai clubs have a friendly rivalry each year to see which club raises the most," said Fanning.
Interact is a Rotary sponsored club for high school students at Skyview and Kenai, and each year the bell ringing program gives Rotarians a chance to spend some time with their high school counterparts. Last Saturday, Skyview senior and Interact member Justin Dahlen stood the Kettle with Soldotna Rotarian Doug Schessler and handed out candy canes to all the good little boys and girls who passed by the Fred Myers door, "Interact is a neat way to give back to the community and bell ringing is fun, you get to see people and make 'em smile while wishing them a Merry Christmas. We've also had a stuffed toy drive and raised money for Christmas gifts for some of our troops in Iraq, helping people is a blast," said Dahlen. After graduation next spring Justin plans on attending San Diego University and pursuing a law degree and hopes to have a career in politics someday to continue his public service.
Craig Fanning has served the Salvation Army at many different posts throughout Alaska and the nation and says by far the Kenai Peninsula is the most generous community he has ever served in, "If I need anything all I have to do is ask and hundreds of people will step forward to help out and I'd say that it's twice as many as any other community I've been in," said Fanning. The Salvation Army Kettle drive will continue through the holidays at various locations in the community.
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