Bells will be ringing

Salvation Army bell-ringers have seen higher donations since moving to new sites at Hobby Lobby and Westlake Ace Hardware
Wednesday, December 1, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 4:12 p.m. CDT, Sunday, July 20, 2008

Do-it-yourselfers and hobbyists appear to be better givers than discount shoppers, judging by the Salvation Army’s tally of donations from the first busy shopping weekend of the year.

The charity reported that its signature red kettles were filled with more than $6,500 in donations over the busy post-Thanksgiving shopping weekend, up roughly $200 from the same period last year.

The bell-ringers have two new locations this year — Westlake Ace Hardware and Hobby Lobby, which offered their sidewalks after the closing of Kmart at Stadium Boulevard and Worley Street and Target Stores’ decision to prohibit solicitation. Ringers at Hobby Lobby and Ace raised $987, compared with $930 for the same weekend one year ago at Kmart and Target.

“The stores have been very supportive,” said Maj. George Windham, commanding officer of the Salvation Army in Boone County.

Target announced earlier this year that it would prohibit solicitations by the Salvation Army to be consistent with the policy it applies to other groups. With the closing of Kmart, the Salvation Army was left without two of its strongest collection locations.

Dave Hoppock, assistant manager of the Westlake Ace Hardware at 1900 Business Loop 70 E., said he contacted the local Salvation Army after he learned it had been barred from Target.

“What they do for the community is a great service,” he said.

Westlake Ace Hardware has been hosting the Salvation Army bell-ringers at various locations for many years, said Linda Smith, manager of corporate communications for the company.

“Westlake is a neighborhood store,” she said. “The Salvation Army does so much for the neighborhood, and we want to help them.”

This is Hobby Lobby’s first Christmas in Columbia, but vice president for advertising Bill Hane said other locations have hosted bell-ringers in the past.

“We have a great appreciation for the Salvation Army, and have enjoyed our relationship with them in the past,” he said.

Windham said the charity usually collected $10,000 each season at Kmart and Target, but it’s too early to tell whether it will exceed that total at Hobby Lobby and Ace this year or if it will reach its Columbia-wide goal of $90,000.

Windham estimates that more than 1,000 Columbia residents will volunteer with the Salvation Army as bell-ringers or on other projects such as its Toy Shops or distributing Christmas food vouchers. Last year, Columbia raised more than $256,000 on all projects including $85,000 from the bell-ringers’ red kettles.

The Salvation Army is also taking collections in Columbia at Wal-Mart stores, Famous-Barr, Gerbes stores, Hy-Vee, the post office and several other Columbia businesses.

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