Signs of the Season

Photos courtesy of The Salvation Army.

By Kathy Knotts

They have become an iconic symbol of the holiday season: friendly faces ringing a bell and asking for a donation for their red kettles.

The Salvation Army’s Red Kettle Campaign is the largest and longest-running fundraiser of its kind. Funds raised in 2021 supported services for more than 25 million people living in America. For more than 125 years ,the red kettles have been a symbol of goodwill during the holiday season. Despite the lingering pandemic, more than 2 million people of all ages volunteered their time, talents, and resources in 2021 to assist The Salvation Army’s work across the country—including Chesapeake Country.

This Christmastime, The Salvation Army in Anne Arundel County is looking for volunteers to ring the bells. Every dollar collected supports the wide range of services and programs provided locally, including feeding the hungry, clothing for those in need, offering emergency financial assistance, providing toys to children, and hosting after-school programs.

“If you have never volunteered with The Salvation Army before, come and give it a try. Be part of something special by helping make a difference in the lives of so many this holiday season,” said Capt. Ruairi Ward, Commanding Officer of The Salvation Army Annapolis Corps which services most of Anne Arundel County. “We’ve got a volunteer opportunity just for you, whether you can give an hour, a morning, or an entire day.”

The Salvation Army Annapolis Capt. Sarah Ward and her boys at the red kettle in downtown Annapolis last year.

Volunteer bell ringers are needed from Nov. 18 through Dec. 24, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays. “Last year, we implemented an online tool for volunteers to sign-up,” said Ward. “We are excited to offer this again for the 2022 season. Visit and simply select the location, date, and time you would like to ring. You can split a shift with a friend or sign up as a group. Individuals, families, groups of friends or co-workers, and church groups are all welcome.”

Along with the familiar red kettles, the Angel Tree program is one of The Salvation Army’s highest-profile Christmas efforts. Through the support of community donors, The Salvation Army will provide gifts for 1,500 area children this year. Volunteers are needed to help manage Angel Tree locations and later help sort and distribute gifts to program participants. 

If you’re interested in volunteering for Angel Tree, Red Kettle Bell Ringing, or something else, please call The Salvation Army at (410) 263-4091. To donate, or for more ways to engage, visit