Red Kettle bell ringers collect more than $108,000 during 2021 campaign

In the last five years, more than a half a million dollars has been raised in this area.

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Pat and Bob Dahlheimer of the Alexandria Evening Lions Club worked as bell ringers for the Salvation Army at Cub Foods last year. Echo Press file photo

Once again, residents of Douglas County and beyond have shown their generosity.

The 2021 Red Kettle Campaign, with its “Hope Marches On” slogan, raised $108,186.

And according to Stu Mackechney, a local service unit member with the Salvation Army of Douglas County, that amount was more than $7,000 over the 2020 campaign funds raised.

“The money raised over the last five years is more than a half a million dollars,” he said.

That money has been used to help people in need in this area.


Donna Ortendahl, the Salvation Army field representative for this area, shared some stories of people who have been assisted by the Red Kettle Campaign funds.

She said the Salvation Army assisted a woman who had to get to a doctor’s appointment who had been diagnosed with cancer. The woman did not have money for gas to get to her appointment since she is on a fixed income. She was provided funds for gas and a family member was able to drive the woman to her appointment so she was not alone.

“This was an emergency as she was needing to find out what treatment was needed,” said Ortendahl. “The woman was very grateful for the assistance.”

She shared another story about a homeless man who was looking for assistance with a rental deposit so he could get into an apartment. He was working with the Housing and Redevelopment Authority and had been applying for jobs around the area. The Salvation Army worked with the HRA to get the man into safe, secure housing. The man found a job and is

now employed full time.

“He was so thankful and appreciative for the help that was given to him,” Ortendahl said.

Mackechney said that the generosity of everyone who gave to the 2021 Red Kettle Campaign really helped to keep hope alive.

Here’s a look at how much each location raised:


Cub Foods – $24,204. There were 47 ringers who rang for 357 hours.

Elden’s Fresh Foods – $23,108. There were 77 ringers who rang for 303 hours.

Viking Plaza Mall – $2,457. There were 27 ringers who rang for 68 hours.

Fleet Farm – $15,576. There were 90 ringers who rang for more than 180 hours.

Walmart – $22,747. There were 34 ringers who rang for more than 216 hours.

Mackechney also said there were 32 merchants who allowed stand-alone kettles and that those kettles garnered an additional $3,293. In addition, the Salvation Army received checks totalling another $16,800.

“Our local service unit would like to express our sincere thank you to all who rang, to the merchants who cooperated so fully with us, to all the organizations, churches and individuals who were willing to contribute to our 2021 campaign,” he said. “The generosity has been amazing.”

The members of the local service unit bell ringer committee includes not only Mackechney, but also Jeff Morse, Jim Augdahl, Al Lund, Mike Schjenken, Dave Schultz, Roger Schultz, Paul Thompson, Mike Thorstad and Jill Woodhall.


Other stories

Ortendahl shared three other stories of people who received assistance. Here they are:

  • A woman called asking for rental assistance. She had to have knee surgery and was unable to work since November. She had fallen behind on her rent and needed a little help until she could return to work in February. She was able to work out a payment plan with her landlord and the Salvation Army assisted her with paying for one month’s rent so she would not get further behind.

  • A woman called that had gotten kicked out of the place where she was living at. She worked with West Central Minnesota Communities Action, Social Services and The Salvation Army. She found an apartment and these agencies worked together to get her into housing. She was very happy

  • that to be assisted as she had no one here to help her. She said she wanted to pay this forward when she got back on her feet and would be a bell ringer next year to ensure she helped someone else out of a tough situation like she was experiencing.

  • A homeless man called asking for some assistance. He had moved here from another state and had a job lined up, but shortly after he got here, he was laid off. He was sleeping on a friend’s couch and applying for jobs around the area. He was given the numbers to West Central Communities Action, HRA, Social Services and the local food shelf. He shared with Ortendahl that his mother had just passed away and he would be so grateful for any help that was given to him. He was able to locate an apartment but needed help with a deposit and the first month’s rent. West Central Communities Action assisted with a deposit and The Salvation Army assisted with the first month’s rent. He was very grateful for all the help, Ortendahl said.

Celeste Edenloff is the special projects editor and a reporter for the Alexandria Echo Press. She has lived in the Alexandria Lakes Area since 1997. She first worked for the Echo Press as a reporter from 1999 to 2011, and returned in 2016 to once again report on the community she calls home.
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