The familiar sound of tinkling bells coming from Nickel’s Arcade this holiday season may not be as frequent as years past.
Major Dianna Williams, who oversees all the bell-ringer volunteers for the Washtenaw County Salvation Army, said the organization is struggling to find volunteers to man the bell-ringing stations. As of last week, volunteers were out in front of Nickel’s Arcade only six times this season since the campaign began, according to Williams. Most of the volunteers at this location are typically college students, she said.
“It’s not our biggest spot, (but) we really depend on volunteers to man those locations … but this year, they’re not volunteering,” Williams said. “So far, we’ve only had paid bell ringers (at Nickel’s Arcade).”
On an average day, the Nickels Arcade location can bring in up to $199. Some of the higher-grossing locations include Busch’s on Main Street, which averages $422 per day, and outside Macy’s at Briarwood Mall, which collects $571 on an average day.
Williams said the charity has raised $14,000 less than this time last year, which is problematic because fundraising during the holiday season accounts for 75 percent of the Salvation Army’s yearly budget.
“It’s very important that we raise our money,” Williams said.
The donations are used to support the charity’s programs for youth and adults and provide goods for the Salvation Army’s food pantry and shelter.
“Whatever the need is, if we can provide it (to our clients), we will,” Williams said. “But without (the money), we may have to cut those services … that’s how drastic it is.”
Despite the lack of general volunteers this season, some University students are still trying to do their part. Alpha Phi Omega, a community service fraternity at the University, raised $171 for the Salvation Army last month, an amount Williams said is “not too shabby.”
LSA senior Spencer Shepard, who was in charge of organizing the project for APO, wrote in an e-mail interview that the fundraiser was very successful.
“It’s a very important fundraiser for them, and we’re all glad we have the opportunity to help out, as the Salvation Army does a lot of good for our community,” Spencer wrote.