One thing I look forward to each December is helping out the Salvation Army with their Red Kettle drive.  They have a great tradition of brass band music, along with the bell ringers at the red buckets, so I decided to combine those traditions and play Christmas music on my horns instead of ringing.  People seem to like it, and I love to get to talk with people, some I haven’t seen in years, and a lot that I’ve never met.   And it’s about the only chance I have to play live music this year.

The Salvation Army has been helping people in need for more than a century and a half!   Now, with the pandemic, our most vulnerable citizens need help more than ever, but in 2020, it’s not an easy task for the Salvation Army to meet those needs.   They need your help, to help others.  The Angel Tree program of Calhoun and Barry County helps families in need by providing new clothing and toys to children each year.

Salvation Army Bell Ringers began last Friday, November 20th, and continue right up until Christmas, except for Sundays.  Major Kevin Van Zee is the Corps Officer for the Salvation Army, serving Calhoun and Barry Counties.   “We still need ringers.  It’s pretty much the same as in previous years, except we wear masks and stand six feet from the bucket.”  Van Zee says you can sign up as an individual, as a family, or as an organization.

A few years ago, the Salvation Army took advantage of new technology, and they have a great way to sign up to ring the bell.  Sign up at

Locations include:

  • Albion Family Fare
  • Marshall Family Fare
  • Marshall K-Mart
  • Battle Creek Family Fare
  • Battle Creek Walmart
  • Battle Creek Sam’s Club
  • Battle Creek Horrock’s Market
  • Battle Creek Hobby Lobby
  • Hastings Family Fare
  • Hastings Walmart

You can select the date range, city, location, and select a shift.  Then you’ll get an e-mail with reminders about your shift.  After that, you just have to dress warm and show up!  If you change your mind, you can log in again and change your shift or cancel it if you need to.

There are many other ways to volunteer, and you can see them by clicking here.

And if you would like to make an on-line donation, click here.   You can make a one-time gift, or sign up for a monthly contribution.

If you’d like to volunteer the old-fashioned way, Van Zee says that’s just fine.  Call 269-963-3640.

Sally’s Kitchen is operated by the Salvation Army at 400 Capital Northeast.   They provide a good meal, six days a week to anyone who needs it.   Van Zee says they’ll have to go by the same rules as Michigan restaurants, which means take-out right now, even for Thanksgiving.  Serving hours are:

  • Monday through Friday 11:30 am until 1:00 pm
  • Saturday 1:00 pm to 2:00 pm

From November 30th through December 11th, they’ll be accepting requests for Christmas dinners and toys for the kids’ Christmas.

As you make your way out shopping this year, plan to have cash on hand, or give cashless with Kettle Pay and QR code on each Kettle sign. Or send it in the mail.

The Salvation Army, Battle Creek Corps
400 Capital Ave NE
Battle Creek, MI 49017
(269) 963-3640

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