181203-news-santafundbellpic

Caleb Walton places a dollar bill in the red kettle on Saturday outside Harvest Market in Bedford while Arthur Molderez of the Bedford Rotary Club rings the kettle bells.

BEDFORD — It takes a village of selfless bell ringers each December to help make Christmas a little more special for those less fortunate.

In Bedford, its village of volunteers has been working tirelessly for the past 49 years for the Salvation Army Christmas kettle. While it may be a tradition for the members of the Bedford Rotary Club, it has become a community-wide holiday celebration to ring the red kettle bells, say organizers.

“This is an opportunity for us to give back. I am very proud that we have continued this tradition for 49 years,” said Alan Heacock, president-elect of the Bedford Rotary Club. Last month, the local club was recognized with the Christmas Kettle Award at the annual Union Leader Santa Fund for the Salvation Army luncheon.

“This may have been one of the very first service projects that our club started,” said Heacock.

For the past several years, the club has been stationed outside Harvest Market in Bedford, where it managed to collect 10 percent of the Salvation Army’s overall kettle collections in 2017. It takes dozens of volunteers to make sure that every shift is filled and that bell ringers will be available, including club members, community volunteers and employees from local businesses.

“The assistance we receive from the Bedford Rotary is invaluable,” said Capt. Mike Harper of the Salvation Army. “Bell ringing, for us, becomes a ministry.”

The Salvation Army has 16 locations in the region where red kettles are stationed throughout the month. This year, the kettle goal is to reach $134,000, according to Harper, who said the campaign hit $132,000 last year. As of Thursday, the kettles in the area had collected about $44,000, he said.

“We have folks that come to us all year needing help with rental assistance, utility help or prescription assistance. We help people that are in the grips of either alcohol or drug addiction and we help to get them into treatment,” said Harper.

How to donate to the Union Leader Santa Fund for the Salvation Army:

• Santa Fund donations can be made online at www.unionleader.com/santafund http://www.unionleader.com/santafund. It’s fast, easy and convenient. Donations also may be made by sending a check to the Union Leader Santa Fund, c/o New Hampshire Union Leader, P.O. Box 9555, Manchester, NH, 03108.

• Or drop your donation in the Santa Fund box in the lobby of the newspaper at 100 William Loeb Drive, Manchester, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.