Los Banos Salvation Army needs ringers

By Thaddeus Miller / tmiller@losbanosenterprise.comDecember 6, 2012 

Ralph Saavedra and Michael Rodriguez stood outside Save Mart on Wednesday night, ringing bells, singing carols and doing what they could to attract donations.

"Last week, they were more giving," said Saavedra, a bell ringer for a third time.

Los Banos Salvation Army outpost volunteers are ringing bells outside of seven area businesses to collect for the nonprofit, which provides nearly 300 food boxes to needy families every month. The outpost also plans a coat and toy drive Saturday outside Walmart.

Rodriguez sang "Santa Claus is Coming to Town," and Saavedra said he tries to engage passers-by in conversation, which tends to spur donations.

Saavedra, wearing pants he picked up at the local outpost, said this is his way of giving to a charitable cause.

Bonnie Roberts, a Salvation Army envoy, said the outpost's biggest earner has started sluggish.

"It's going kind of slow, but we do need bell ringers," Roberts said.

The outpost hopes to bring in $15,000 with this year's effort, Roberts said, that's $3,000 more than last year.

The lack of bell ringers, Roberts said, means she doesn't have enough to cover all seven locations at the same time all day. She said how much the kettles bring in sets the budget for the year.

"The kettles we've been counting have been good," Roberts said, adding she's looking for help from local clubs, groups and individuals.

The outpost provides clothes to families throughout the year and toys to impoverished children during Christmas. It also participates in Reach-Plus, which assists with paying electric and utility bills. In October, the Fourth Street outpost attained a grant and opened a computer lab for job seekers.

Roberts said the outpost plans Fill the Van, a coat and toy drive, Saturday on the west end of the Walmart parking lot, 1575 W. Pacheco Boulevard, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

For more on volunteering, donating or joining the food box list, call the outpost at (209) 827-4945.

Red kettles can be found at the Pacheco Boulevard locations of Food 4 Less, Walgreens, Save Mart, Walmart and J.C. Penney's, as well as Mercey Springs Road's Kmart and the Post Office on Sixth Street.

Enterprise reporter Thaddeus Miller can be reached at (209) 388-6562 or by email at tmiller@losbanosenterprise.com.

Enterprise reporter Thaddeus Miller can be reached at (209) 388-6562 or by email at tmiller@losbanos enterprise.com.

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