Salvation Army bell-ringers are as much a part of the holidays as eating too much and spending too much.
The bells will start ringing in two weeks, on the day after Thanksgiving. They will start ringing, that is, if community members volunteer to ring them.
Bell-ringers work in one-hour shifts standing in high-traffic locations across Routt County. The change dropped in their kettles adds up to an average of $50 an hour.
The bell-ringing campaign will continue until Christmas Eve.
Last year, 88 people volunteered, putting in a total of 146 hours, volunteer coordinator Debbie Freseman said.
Freseman also rang bells last year.
"I thought it was going to be hard," she said. "But it was actually very fun. People are so friendly, and a lot of volunteers take their children or a dog."
Volunteers are needed to work shifts Thursday and Friday afternoons or at any time of day on Saturdays and Sundays. Bell ringers also are needed every day during the week before Christmas.
Last year, Salvation Army bell-ringers in Routt County raised $8,600.
The money goes to the LIFT-UP of Routt County Community Care Fund.
The fund is used for emergency aid to Routt County residents struggling to pay medical bills, utility bills or, occasionally, rental assistance, said LIFT-UP executive director David Freseman.
In the past year, the need for dental assistance and help with payment for prescription drugs has increased greatly because insurance is not covering those bills, Freseman said.
Because the Salvation Army does not have an office in Routt County, the Community Care Fund is overseen by an extension committee -- Susan Mizen from Horizons, David Freseman and Robin Heide from LIFT-UP, and Ruth Ann Mewborn from the Routt County Department of Human Services.
Applicants are allowed a maximum of $200 per household per year.
"That's a hard and fast rule," David Freseman said.
In 2003, the Community Care Fund served 52 households with $6,770.
To volunteer as a Salvation Army bell-ringer, call Debbie Freseman at 879-8192 after Nov. 21 or leave a message.