April 19, 2014

Mostly sunny

Salvation Army makes resounding effort

Nancy Johnson | The Gazette

This holiday season, Boy Scout and Brownie troops rang the bells for The Salvation Army Red Kettle campaign.

Neal Beck, 82, of Medina Township, rings in the donations at the Salvation Army Red Kettle at Buehler’s market, on River Styx Road. Beck has been a Salvation Army bell ringer for 10 years. (GAZETTE PHOTO BY NANCY JOHNSON)

So did members of Litchfield’s 4-H Club, Medina’s Odd Fellows and several Medina High School clubs.

The Salvation Army had kettles in five major spots — Hawkins, Wal-Mart, two Buehler’s and Giant Eagle — plus “mini-kettles” throughout the area.

With so many kettles needing ringers, Salvation Army Lt. Mike Smith and Kimberly Fetty started recruiting volunteers in early October.

“If it weren’t for the community’s volunteer work and donations, we wouldn’t be able to help those in need,” said Smith.

The longest-running bell ringer in Medina is Neal Beck. Beck sets up camp on most days throughout the season at Buehler’s market, on River Styx Road.

He has volunteered for the Red Kettle campaign for the past 10 years.

“I do it to give back to the community because I can’t afford to donate money,” said Beck, who will be 82 next month and lives at Western Reserve Masonic Community. “All I can donate is my time.

“My mother-in-law was a soldier for the Salvation Army and I lived with her for quite some time. When she got into her 80s, she couldn’t volunteer anymore. So I thought I’d follow in her footsteps.

“It’s rewarding. People come up to me and say the Salvation Army is the best organization in the world. That chokes me up.”

Last year the Salvation Army used Red Kettle donations to provide social services to 2,593 people, open its food pantry to 1,066 families and serve 12,000 Project Munch meals.

Contact reporter Nancy Johnson at (330) 721-4065 or areanews@medina-gazette.com.