Salvation Army gears up to keep Rochester warm

November 14, 2018

Colder temperatures mean a lot of things to people, but at the Rochester Salvation Army, the low Fahrenheit readings tend to mean two things – coat drive and bell ringing.

In previous years, the United Way has held the coat drive in September to benefit the Salvation Army, according to Rebecca Snapp, director of community engagement.

This year, the Salvation Army has taken over the effort. Coat collection boxes have been out for about two weeks and will remain in six public locations until the end of the month. Boxes are located at the five Nature’s Best Cleaners locations in Rochester, Autumn Ridge Church, Co-Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist and Schmidt Group RE/MAX Results on 26th Street Northwest.

To make the drive possible, Snapp said local Realtors Melanie Schmidt and her son, Chris Schmidt, reached out and helped form a “beautiful trio of partnership” to collect coats, find locations for collection, transport the coats and have them cleaned before they are ready to find new homes.

Melanie Schmidt said they were looking for a way to do community outreach in the local area and both came up with the idea of a coat drive and then called Snapp and told her they were going to pull it all together.

In addition to partnering with Nature’s Best Cleaners, Schmidt also got the help of Two Men and a Truck. Already, Schmidt said, they’ve collected a lot of coats but are still in need of more, plus hats, mittens, boots and snow pants.

“We are one big effort. It takes a team to do it,” Schmidt said.

The Rochester Salvation Army is projecting it will need 600 coats this year, Snapp said. Already, more than 150 coat vouchers have been given out for people to use at Salvation Army stores in the area to pick a coat that fits them.

“The coats are coming in, but we still need more,” Schmidt said.

Collection kettles

On Friday, the Salvation Army’s annual Red Kettle Christmas Campaign began with a goal to raise $1 million. The money will be used to fund programs in the area and makes about a third of the local organization’s operating budget, according to Snapp.

Across Rochester and the county, 31 kettles and 45 counters kettles are out and ready to accept donations.

Early Monday afternoon, Jim and Bev Faulhaber stood near the exit of Hy-Vee in the Barlows Shopping Plaza with the familiar red bucket, ringing bells. This was the couple’s second year volunteering as bell ringers. The Faulhabers were also two of the Elks Club 16 volunteers who were scheduled to collect money for the Salvation Army.

Bev Faulhaber said it was rewarding to spend a few hours of their time raising money.

“Everybody is willing to give, even it’s just a little bit,” she said. “It’s nice to help out the needy.”

Tommy Carey, who was responsible for coordinating the Elks Club volunteers, said the group has been bell ringing for about a dozen years.

“There is a need in our community and that is our role,” Carey said. “Caring about people. That’s what it’s all about, especially today, Veterans Day.”

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