They're outside certain groccery stores greeting us with cheery-holiday bells. But this year, The Salvation Army in Middletown says their bell ringers are facing a setback. YNN's Jessica Chen explains.
MIDDLETOWN, N.Y. -- We've seen them and have certainly heard them. The Salvation Army bell ringers who come out during the Christmas season. However, there is something different about this year, said Ron Dulka.
"Every year, busy, this year so slow," he said.
So slow that Ron, who has been ringing bells for the last three years said donations have been scarce.
"I feel so disappointed, I think it’s me, but it isn’t," said Dulka.
Though it feels this way for Dulka, Major Mary Moore with The Salvation Army Middletown said it's something else.
"Our income is just not really what we expected it to be," said Moore.
Moore said she believes one of the reasons why donations are down this year is because there aren't enough people signing up to ring bells.
"We just can’t find ladies and gentleman willing to work," she said.
Of the 25 red kettles scattered around the area now, less than half are being filled. As a result, donations are down almost 30 percent compared to the same time last year. And with the red kettle campaign typically making up a quarter of The Salvation Army Middletown's annual budget, Moore said that's a concern.
"If we don’t get the money that we need, we’re going to have to cut back on our services," said Moore.
Services such as rental assistance and food pantry, which more than 1,500 people have already benefited from this holiday season.
"That little bit of help is usually enough to get them over the hump of whatever crisis they're facing," said Moore.
Because volunteer bell ringers are down this year, Moore said they are hiring bell ringers. She said they will be paid $8/hr to work eight hour shifts.