Commonly Asked Questions

Here are some of the most commonly asked questions regarding

The Salvation Army Bell Ringing

How does it work?

You simply register yourself or group for a time, date, and location that is most convenient for you.  Of course as the season moves along you may not always get the exact location, date or time, however, please know that we will absolutely place you where there is the most need at the time(s) you are available.   Our Kettle Coordinators will confirm back with you via email or by postcard.  A kettle and bells will be at your location.  If there is a bell ringer or group there when you arrive, and you are a bit early,  simply introduce yourself and wait until the end of the shift to take over.  Be sure to wish shoppers a “Merry Christmas” and be sure to thank people for their donation.   All types of bell ringer talents are welcome from caroling, to musical instruments, even hula hoops.

How long do I/we have to ring?

You may ring as long as you like, but we do prefer that you ring for at least a minimum of two hours. We encourage groups to take four hours or more, which helps The Salvation Army manage sites and volunteers more effectively. We suggest that bell ringers at least ring in pairs if possible to provide opportunities for breaks and for warming up.  It’s also nice to have a friend to chat with and to share the experience.

What if I have to reschedule?

If you find you are unable to make your scheduled ringing time please contact us immediately so that we can attempt to find a replacement.  You can reach our Kettle Coordinators at 269-743-0834.

What if the weather is bad?

Bell ringing is very rarely cancelled, but if there is inclement weather, and you are unsure, please call the contact number listed on your confirmation email.

What do I wear?

Unless it is otherwise noted, you will be standing outside, so dress appropriately!!! If it’s cold – bundle up! Wear lots of layers and especially good, comfortable shoes.   Winter hats or ear muffs are essential and mittens are better than gloves. Some volunteers bring a small carpet square or rug to stand on to help their feet stay warmer and prevent sore back muscles.  Hand and feet warmers are also something to consider.  If you are absolutely unable to stand for long periods or have a disability that would prevent you from standing, you may bring a stool or chair.   We do not wish to exclude anyone from this great volunteer opportunity.

What if my equipment is late?

Drivers delivering and picking up equipment may have multiple locations, encounter traffic and may be running late. Please be patient. If the kettle and bell is not delivered within 10 or 15 minutes of your shift start time, please call the contact number listed on the Kettle Stand.

What do I do with the kettle when I am finished?

The kettle is securely locked onto the stand, and only Salvation Army staff may remove the kettle. If the next bell ringer has arrived, simply give the bell to that person so that he/she may start the next shift. If no one has come to replace you or collect the equipment, place the bell in the Kettle Stand Holder, and you may leave. Volunteers are not responsible for “standing guard” over the kettle once their shift is finished.

Who do I contact in an emergency?

If you have an emergency while ringing please call the number on your confirmation email and/or attached to the kettle stand (if it is a different number). If it is a life-threatening emergency please dial 911.

Does Bell Ringing count as community service?

Yes it does!!  If you have a form that needs to be signed, you will need to bring it to The Salvation Army of Kalamazoo located at 1700 S. Burdick St. during regular business hours, M – F, 8:30 a.m. to noon and 1 – 4 p.m.  If it is o.k. to receive an email confirmation we can certainly do this also.   If you do need a specific letter signed you must bring the letter to The Salvation Army no later than December 31st.

Why are there no Red Kettles out on Sundays?

As a church, The Salvation Army of Kalamazoo is committed to making sure that everyone has the opportunity to attend a worship service on Sundays for a day of Sabbath or rest.

What is the minimum age?

All ages are welcome to ring at the kettle!  However, youth 14 and under will require adult supervision while volunteering.

Can I give out Christmas treats/gifts to shoppers?

We ask that while you are volunteering you do not give items such as candy canes, flyers or other items to shoppers.  The stores have been gracious enough to allow our kettles in front of their stores to receive donations.  As part of our agreement with the stores, we are not allowed to give out items or promotional materials at the kettle.

Can I play music while I am bell ringing?

The majority of stores permit live Christmas music at the kettles. Many shoppers appreciate hearing the music and it really helps in sharing the Christmas spirit.    If you have a group performing, we ask that you make sure the entrance to the store and the kettle are not blocked for shoppers.

Recent Stats

  • 4,007 - Kids served through Toy Shop
  • 2,360- People served with food
  • 825 - Christmas Baskets
  • 773- Households receiving Utility Assistance
  • 600 - Thanksgiving Baskets
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USA Central Territory, Western Michigan Northern Indiana Division Kalamazoo Corps
1700 S. Burdick St., Kalamazoo MI 49001-2714 - p: 269-344-6119 f: 269-344-1163