Herald-Whig

Holidays provide opportunities for volunteers

ToysForTots
Carla McKnght is one of many volunteers helping sort toys by age Tuesday at the Toys for Tots warehouse in the Quincy Development Center. | H-W Photo/Michael Kipley
Michael Kipley 1|
By Herald-Whig
Posted: Dec. 6, 2017 8:15 am

QUINCY -- Volunteers keep the wheels turning for many organizations, and during the holidays it picks up for many.

Steve Lindsey of Toys for Tots said the organization would not be able to distribute 20,000 toys to 4,000 children in West-Central Illinois without its volunteers.

"We have thousands of toys we have to sort, put out on a shelf, toys we need to pick up," Lindsey said. "We need volunteers for everything. There's no one paid person on our staff."

The same is true for the Salvation Army, which continues to need volunteer bell ringers to station at its red kettles for its annual campaign.

Jeremy Koren, the bell-ringing coordinator for the Salvation Army in Quincy, said that in his third Christmas season with the Salvation Army, he sees how important volunteers are. Last year, there were more than 1,000 volunteers ringing bells in Quincy and 300 in Hannibal, Mo.

"Typically we find if there is not somebody ringing a bell at the kettle, the kettle will be near empty," Koren said. "The more bell ringers we have, obviously the more money that we make toward meeting our goal and helping those in need."

Money raised in the Salvation Army campaign supports Christmas food boxes, presents for area children, and Christmas and Thanksgiving meals, and assists the social services department's food pantry and rent assistance programs throughout the year.

Toys for Tots enlists from about 20 volunteers a week early on during the holiday season, but when toys are distributed Dec. 18 and 19, it needs 20 to 25 volunteers each day.

"Some people come out and work an hour, and some come out and work the whole time we're here that evening," Lindsey said. "It's flexible. If you have 30 minutes to give us, we appreciate it. If you have three hours to give us, we'd appreciate that, too."

Bell ringing for the Salvation Army is separated into two-hour shifts, with volunteers deciding how often they want to help.

"The kettle will be locked to a kettle stand, and there will be a bag there with bells, aprons and all that," Koren said in explaining what volunteers can expect. "They'll either pass it off to the next volunteer, or put everything back in the bag."

Anyone interested in volunteering with Toys for Tots should contact Lindsey at 217-653-1803. A volunteer calender can also be found on its Facebook page, "Toys for Tots Quincy Illinois."

To sign up to ring bells for the Salvation Army, visit ringbells.org.