While some residents may be tired of Christmas reminders already, one of Chillicothe's most well-known sounds of the season begins Saturday.
Local "celebrities" will kick off the Salvation Army's red kettle campaign at Chillicothe's sole bell location, Kroger.
Many familiar faces can be found at the kettle as individuals, businesses, churches, high school clubs and more spend their time ringing the bell day in and day out until Christmas.
The money is used for friends and neighbors in the Illinois Valley area who find themselves in a pinch. The money is used in emergencies for families or individuals who need a little help with utilities, rent, medicine, transportation, food or more.
Many times the assistance comes when a family needs it the most, usually involving the loss of a job.
That was the case for a family recently, said Ed Dutton, volunteer kettle coordinator and service extension director.
A wife of a large family was laid off from her job, and was attending school. Even with her husband working, the high gas prices of filling up her tank to go to school began draining the working family of its money. To help the family make its payment plan with Ameren Illinois, the Salvation Army gave the couple $250 for utilities.
"We were able to help them. That was nice," said Dutton.
The need in the area has been great, Dutton said.
Last year the campaign made its $15,000 goal, which is the same for this year.
At the end of July, however, the funds all were disbursed, leaving no money available for August and September. Funds were available again in October for the new fiscal year.
"I don't want to run out again," said Dutton.
New for this year is a matching program, in which an individual, group or business may match a day or half a day's bell ringing total.
Already signed up to participate is CEFCU, up to $1,000; and First United Methodist Church's missions fund will match what the church raises during its day of bell ringing.
Other individuals, businesses and churches are working on the matching program.
Dutton and his wife, Carol, collect the buckets during the campaign, which also includes counter kettles at local establishments.
Many groups sign up for a day to ring throughout the holiday season, but individuals are also welcome to donate as much time as they would like.
The groups compete in a good-natured contest to see who can ring in the most amount of money.
To sign up, call Dutton at 274-2794.
Celebrity bell ringing
9 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday at Kroger
9 a.m. — Ausra Rowell
Page 2 of 2 - 10 a.m. — Gary Fyke
11 a.m. — Dick Lingenfelter
Noon — Bernie Thieben
1 p.m. — Marianne Gillespie
2 p.m. — Ed Dutton
3 p.m. Special Touch Choir