Ringers bring in record donations

— The Salvation Army's bell ringers were heard loud and clear this holiday season.

The 2005 kettle campaign had a record year, pulling in $16,750 for the organization, which provides assistance to low-income families. In 2004, the kettle campaign raised $12,091.

About 215 volunteers worked this season, ringing bells for more than 200 hours from Thanksgiving to Christmas. The volunteers rang bells at several locations, including Wal-Mart, City Market and Safeway.

This year volunteers put in extra time in the week leading up to Dec. 25 by filling in all day.

"People really came forward and offered to help," said Susan Mizen, a member of the Salvation Army of Routt County's service extension unit. "They rang the bell as often as they could. They made quite a bit of money that we wouldn't have had if it weren't for them."

Sharon Beaupre organized the volunteers. She said Sunday that she was thrilled with the community's spirit in volunteerism and giving; she even had to turn volunteers away because there were no time slots available.

"People were absolutely fabulous," Beaupre said. "I was just really amazed at the people who believe in community service."

Ninety percent of the money raised during the campaign goes to Routt County families; the other 10 percent goes to the organization's Denver office. But that money can be returned if the county needs it, Mizen said.

"If at any time we need that, all we have to do is tell them, and they send it back," she said.

The money raised has been used to help families pay for dental and medical bills, prescriptions, lodging and utilities. In 2004, 106 members of 62 families received assistance from the Salvation Army of Routt County, Mizen said.

Beaupre said she enjoyed working with the campaign so much that if she doesn't have the position next year, she'll be a bell ringer. "I am incredibly impressed with Steamboat Springs," Beaupre said. "It shows the kind of community that we are and what we stand for."

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