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Jingle bells and red kettles make the season bright

Last week customers of the Two Harbors Super One Foods were met with sure signs that the holiday season is upon us -- red kettles and merry bell-ringers. The North Shore Rotary has been coordinating kettle locations and volunteers to collect cash donations so Lake Countians in need will have a brighter holiday.

According to North Shore Rotary vice- president Kiera Wilson, this year community members will notice fewer collection locations and kettles, but no less enthusiasm.

"We're taking a more concentrated approach to capture the busiest, most heavily trafficked areas and time frames during the holiday season," she said. "We hope that this will reach more (people) and raise more funds for the Salvation Army for Lake County." Of monies collected, 89 percent is spent to meet the needs of people right here in the area.

Phyllis Mealey, chair of the Salvation Army Extension Board for Lake County, said that the funds and other items collected, such as toys, are distributed to anyone who applies and has a need.

"Anyone who needs help, all they have to do is ask," she said, adding that "there's no discrimination." Families, seniors and individuals are asked to complete an application so appropriate help can be given, but people in need are not turned away. Families with children can sign up to receive gifts to give to their kids on Christmas and Super One and Zups gift cards are distributes so the makings of a holiday meal can be purchased.

Wilson said that volunteers will be at Super One on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays from 9 a.m.- 7 p.m. to collect cash donations in the kettles. There are also stand- alone kettles in the lobbies of The Lake Bank and the Two Harbors Federal Credit Union, making it possible for folks to give a little as they're doing their banking, too.

Volunteer bell ringers are still needed for additional Monday time slots and anyone interested in giving a few hours of their day are asked to call Lyle Northey at 834- 2046. Whether it's the gift of time or money, every bit helps a Lake County neighbor.

"People are very generous and they want to help. And the Salvation Army has the best reputation for using their donations to help people, not for administrative costs," said Mealey.

"Rotary looks at it as a community service. What better way to serve the community than to do this for the Salvation Army," said Wilson, adding that the North Shore Rotary is matching funds for the first $1000 donated during the red kettle drive.

Toy donations are being collected, too, at businesses throughout the community. Next time you're out, look for the red bins (there's one at the News Chronicle office at 109 Waterfront Drive) and drop off a new unwrapped toy or game. The items will be collected by Cooperative Light and Power, given to the Salvation Army and distributed to families with children.