Salvation Army Raises Over $340K in Red Kettle Campaign

NORHTWEST ARKANSAS – The Salvation Army reached 90 percent of its money raising goal in the annual Red Kettle Campaign.

The group raised a total of $343,952, which is 91 percent of their goal. Major Dan Matthews, Area Commander for the Salvation Army released the following statement:

“We want to thank each community in Northwest Arkansas for their generosity this year in giving to the Christmas Kettles. It was a wonderful year – we made 91% of our goal, and we are delighted with that. All of the Angel Tree tags were bought for, and we can just imagine how many families were brought together around the tree because of that generosity in NWA. So thank you, to everyone in this community, for giving from the heart this year. God Bless you.”

The money raised will help support Salvation Army services in NWA  in 2017, including providing shelter, food, utility assistance, addiction recovery, clothing, furniture and disaster relief. Also this year, the Salvation Army was able to provide Angel Tree gifts to 2,113 children this year.

Red kettle worker plays the banjo, not bells

SPRINGDALE — The temperature hovered in the low 40s, and the sky was gray and dreary. But the cheerful notes of “Jingle Bells” — bluegrass-style — pealed out, and busy holiday shoppers entered the Springdale store wearing smiles.

Gary Shipley picks his banjo every day but Sunday in front of the Harps Food Store on Sunset Avenue, making for a unique alternative to the bells usually associated with the Salvation Army’s red kettles.

The shoppers likely don’t realize that the serenades come from a professional musician with quite a resume.

Shipley’s website lists performances with the Harvest Time Singers, Little Jimmy Dickens, Alan Young, Charlie Lawson and Oak Hill, Charlie Louvin, Jimmy Martin, Rich McCready, Spring Water Bluegrass Ultimate, the Misty Mountain Drifters and many more.

He also played behind Margie and Enoch Sullivan with the legendary Sullivan Family group, which received a distinguished achievement award from the International Bluegrass Music Association in 2005, while Shipley was a member.

Shipley has played the banjo for 45 years, and to prove it, he shows calluses on his fingers in the shapes of the banjo strings. He also plays 26 other instruments — the dobro or resonator guitar is his other favorite.

He was born in Webb City, Mo. “And as for bluegrass, I took two lessons, and that was it,” he said.

“He loves music. You can see it in his eyes,” said Capt. John Robbins of the Salvation Army’s Springdale Corps.

More than half of what Shipley plays for passers-by as he strums for Salvation Army kettle donations are gospel songs, he said. “Most people don’t know the songs I play — or they might not recognize the way they’re played.”

Sometimes he breaks out his voice, and he does take requests. And, sometimes the joy he shares comes back to him.

“It’s very rewarding,” Shipley said. “Some people buy coffee and bring it to me, and I don’t drink coffee. But I do drink hot chocolate.”

Many Harps customers stop and lean against the posts at the entrance to listen for a while, said store manager Ricky Ritch.

“A lot of people come in just to see him,” Ritch said. “A crazy amount of people stop to tell him how much they appreciate it.”

Ritch admits that he looks for reasons to go outside to listen. Perhaps the manager might collect the grocery carts from the parking lot, he said with a laugh. And customers have requested Shipley’s presence at the store year-round.

“When you see what he brings to the table, you can’t beat it,” Ritch said. “He steps it up to the next level.”

“I know we do appreciate the excitement it builds in our customers,” he said. “Who doesn’t like that kind of music? We’ve got Silver Dollar City in front of our store.”

Lyndsey Strong, a spokesman for the Salvation Army, said Shipley’s performances are a fun change from the typical bells associated with donation seekers.

“It’s Arkansas bell ringing. It feels fun and local, and that’s neat,” Strong said.

“‘Ringing the banjo’ — that sure beats the bells,” Shipley said. “I couldn’t just ring the bell. That would drive me bonkers. The banjo — that’s what I do.”

From his nine-hour-a-day post in front of the grocery store, Shipley said he thinks that what he’s doing is important.

“[The Salvation Army cares] so much. They do so much good for people. They house people. They feed people. Without them, some kids wouldn’t have a Christmas,” he said.

Shipley, who is disabled, said he has faced his own challenging circumstances. “I’ve needed [the Salvation Army], but I never took it. I always had family I could turn to to get me set up.”

All donations collected in the kettles stay local, Strong said. The money supports emergency night shelters in Fayetteville and Bentonville, and a free addiction recovery program. It also pays for hot meals, food baskets, gas vouchers and help with utility bills.

Last year, donations in the Northwest Arkansas kettles totaled more that $372,000, Strong said. This year’s goal is $380,000. “Other groups hold a gala. We have our kettles,” Strong said.

She said the kettle program seems to be fruitful in any economy, even in an increasingly “cashless” society. “Many people make it a point to save money in their car at this time of year,” she said.

When he’s not traveling to perform, Shipley and his family attend the organization’s worship services in Springdale.

“I go to the Salvation Army church not because I have to, but because I want to,” Shipley said proudly.

He shares his talent at the services and works with youths, teaching them to play guitar or piano. “When it comes to working with the children, he is always there,” Robbins said.

“[Shipley] is a very good man,” Robbins said. “He’s just an amazing person. He loves God.”

Robbins said Shipley also likes to just sit and talk with people, finding out what’s going on in their lives. And at Harps, he does it without missing a note.

There are some shoppers who look down on Shipley and assume he’s less fortunate because of his service, Shipley said.

“They look at me and treat me differently,” he said. “What they don’t know is, if not for different circumstances, they could be living in the gutter. There’s need everywhere in this society, if they’d just open their eyes and do what they can.”

“If they don’t put nothing in the kettle, I don’t care,” Shipley said of passing shoppers. “That’s all right. I’ll still tell you to have a great day. I don’t want anything from them.”

“I’m just here to watch the bucket and say hello to everybody — you can’t leave the bucket by itself,” he quipped. “I’m here to play the banjo and put a smile on their faces.

“It’s not in here,” Shipley said, pointing to the red kettle. “It’s what’s in here,” he said, pointing to his heart. “That’s what matters.”


Original Story from NWA Democrat Gazette –>

Locals Volunteer As Bell Ringers For The Holidays


FAYETTEVILLE(KFSM)– Every year red kettles and smiling volunteers greet you at the door of your favorite supermarkets, ringing their bell and wishing you a happy holiday.

The Salvation Army tradition started 125 years ago as an effort to feed one thousand hungry people in San Fransisco.

Donations from the red kettles now help support over 4 and half million people in the U.S. .

Bell ringers graciously donate their time and their smile to support those in need.

Ken Martin says he enjoys participating with the Salvation Army every year.

“There’s many folk that are down and out and this is just one way I can give back to the community.”, said Martin who has been a bell ringer with his church group for the past 6 years.

Volunteers takes shifts at kettles across the world during the coldest time of the year.

But watching joyful shoppers drop donations in their kettle is what helps them pass the time by.

Locals Volunteer As Bell Ringers For The Holidays

Kettle Kick Off in NWA

In a sure sign of the season,  the Salvation Army Kettle Campaign kicked off Friday in Northwest Arkansas.

The Red Kettle program dates back to the late 1800s and continues today. The  campaign is the single largest fundraiser for the Salvation army in the Country.

“All of those funds go to indigent families. children and individuals that don’t have the funding for Christmas gifts meals thanksgiving meals all of those things that you and I have,” Dan Matthews said.

The fundraising goal for Northwest Arkansas is $380,000 this year.

Click HERE to learn more.

Bell Ringers for Hire in NWA

The Salvation Army is hiring bell ringers for the Red Kettle campaign.

The Salvation Army Christmas Red Kettle program dates back to 1891 and continues today. Now, the Red Kettle campaign is the single largest fundraiser for the Salvation Army USA.

The funds raised during the campaign support the Salvation Army’s free addiction recovery program in Northwest Arkansas, the two emergency shelters located in Fayetteville and Bentonville and other social services.

Last year, over $350,000 was raised during the Red  Kettle Campaign.

Applications for the campaign are being accepted now and can be turned in at the Salvation Army in Fayetteville. An orientation for new bell ringers will be  on November 3 at 10 a.m. at the following locations:

Fayetteville Ringers: 219 W. 15 St.

Springdale Ringers: 315 Holcomb St.

Rogers/Bentonville Ringers: 504 N. Dixieland

-original story-

The Story of Change

People love to give back this time of year, and one example is with folks dropping money into red kettles for the Salvation Army, but where exactly does that money go and who benefits? “Giving is simple but its impact is big,” said Natalie Counts, Volunteer.


“Whether you’re giving a quarter or a dollar or $100 it adds up,” said Major Dan Matthews, Area Salvation Army Commander.


At first glance, a quarter might not mean much, but for the folks at the Salvation Army during red kettle season 25 cents goes a long way. In fact, your change, helps create change for the lives of several people in Northwest Arkansas.
“I remember always wanting to put change in the red kettle and that was just something that was just so fun for me as a kid,” said Counce.


Eight years ago, Counce started a coat drive for the Salvation Army. Since then, she’s gathered over 2,500 coats. Along with volunteering as a bell ringer, this past summer, Counce was a speaker at the Salvation Army’s Rock the Red Kettle event in Los Angeles.
“The Salvation Army wanted me to come speak at this event to just give those kids just a little extra encouragement and show them how easy and simple it can be to get involved and what a big impact it has,” said Counce.


“At night, when we count, these pennies can add up to fifty, seventy five, a hundred dollars in coins,” said Ben Godwin, Cadet.
 Screenshot 2016-01-08 16.43.49
Godwin knows how the Salvation Army has made change in his life.


“I went through a dark time about five years ago at this time, which culminated in January of 2011 when I tried to kill myself. I felt very lost. When I came to the Salvation Army, I found my place,” said Godwin.
Like Godwin’s life transformation at the Salvation Army, the change you put in the red kettle transforms to become much more.


“When we walked in the warehouse, we were floored,” said Marcie Bayles, volunteer.
From toys to clothing for men, women and children, Bayles is a volunteer who helps fill Angel Tree gift request. “I’m trying to envision who that child is and what they like. I want to be able to connect with them, make them feel happy,” said Bayles.


Happiness is at a premium on this day. Shopping carts full of holiday cheer, for families struggling during Christmas time.

“Knowing that they get to have that Christmas morning feeling with their kiddos, that is huge for these families,” said Lindsey Strong, Volunteer Coordinator & PR Director Salvation Army


It all started with a quarter, making change in more ways than one.


From the donations received and gifts purchased, 739 families and more than 2,000 angel’s benefited from the Salvation Army’s two-day Christmas distribution.


Copyright 2016 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed




Who Will Win Your Vote??


The Salvation Army has kicked off its annual Red Kettle Campaign, and KNWA & Fox 24 want to help with some healthy competition!

The morning and evening crews from both stations have set up online Red Kettles:

You can donate to the AM crew kettle HERE.

You can donate to the PM crew kettle HERE.

Click HERE for more information on the Salvation Army of NWA.

KNWA’s Coverage of Our Red Kettle Kick-Off


Before the Lights of the Ozarks parade kicked off Friday night, The Salvation Army kicked off the National Red Kettle Campaign on the Fayetteville Square.

Nationally, the Salvation Army hopes to raise $4 million this year with its classic red kettles and ringing bells.
Here in Northwest Arkansas, the goal is to raise $380,000, according to Major Dan Matthews with the Salvation Army.

“You’re already hearing the bells ringing across Northwest Arkansas, and there’s more to come,” Major Matthews said. “All of the money raised in NW Arkansas stays in NWA,” according to Major Matthews.

To learn more about the Salvation Army and its programs, click HERE.