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Red kettle campaign to begin

The Salvation Army’s annual red kettle fundraising campaign will begin next week.

The red kettles, staffed by bell ringers, will be stationed at ten different locations throughout Altoona from Tuesday through Dec. 24.

This year, the vast majority of those bell ringers will be people with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities who are supported by Skills of Central PA through its employment services program.

Skills partnership with the Salvation Army is now in its fifth year.

“We’ve been working with The Salvation Army for a long time, bringing the people we support to their donation sorting center so they can learn skills to help them find a paying job,” said Brent Wyandt, the Skills employment training specialist who coordinates the program, in a statement. “Eventually, we hit on the idea of having them ring bells for the holiday season. Five or six people participated the first year, and we had about a dozen doing it last year.” This year, nearly all of the bell ringers in Altoona will be from Skills,” Wyandt said.

The partnership is not only helping Skills’ participants develop job skills and find paying jobs, it’s also helping The Salvation Army raise funds for its Altoona operations, said the organization’s Capt. Larry Fulmer.

“Most people probably don’t realize that funds we collect from the red kettle fundraiser make up the majority of our annual operating budget,” Fulmer said in a statement. “All of the proceeds stay local in Altoona, and we use them to help people in need, provide children’s programming and operate our social services ministry throughout the city. We couldn’t do this by ourselves, but when we come together in community, we can meet a greater need together.”

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