Thursday, December 23, 2021

‘Civil’ war

Good-natured holiday battle between service clubs continues

Volunteers June Kirchgatter, left, and Mary Lou
Stone are among the volunteers manning the
Red Kettles at Kroger in Plymouth, hoping to "ring up"
donation totals for the Rotary Club and beat local
Kiwanis Club members in total collections for charity.
It's one of the traditional sounds of the season, and holiday shopping trips would not be complete without the familiar "ding, ding, ding" of a Salvation Army volunteer ringing a bell and collecting money in a hanging "Red Kettle".

But behind those smiling faces throughout the area, there is a good-natured and long-standing rivalry between two venerable service clubs. Each year, members of the Plymouth Kiwanis and the Plymouth Rotary clubs attempt to best each other by bringing in more donations to "do the most good" for the Salvation Army and those in need in the local community.

That rivalry has even touched the new officers at the Plymouth Salvation headquarters where Majors Kris and Mary Ann Wood are responsible for the pastoral ministry, programming, operations and social services in Plymouth, Canton Township, Belleville and Northville. While Kris Wood is a Kiwanis Club member, his wife, Mary Ann Wood, is a Rotarian. Last week, during the noon Rotary Club meeting, Wood chose her words carefully, and with humor, describing the impact of the ongoing club rivalry on the couple, while urging her fellow Rotarians to volunteer to ring the bell. The Woods have been officers in The Salvation Army for 27 years and are Canton Township residents.

Kiwanis member Dr. Ralph Bozell, at right, helps rival
 Rotarian and friend Kirk Kohn collect donations for
 the Salvation Army, although Bozell was concerned about
helping the "competition" succeed as the Rotary Club
has in past years.
The Plymouth Noon Rotary Club does have a secret, and nearly insurmountable weapon in the decades-long rivalry, however. Noon Rotary Club member Norm Weast, a financial planner, usually waits until nearly the end of the Red Kettle Drive to make a sizeable contribution to "make sure we beat the Kiwanis." 

The Rotary and Kiwanis club members are among the multiple group members and volunteers who take to local store fronts and business locations to ring the bells for the Salvation Army Red Kettle Campaign.  According to the Salvation Army, the Red Kettle Campaign, the oldest annual charitable fundraiser of the kind in the United States, helps raise money for those who need it most in communities nationwide - providing toys for children, coats for the homeless, food for the hungry and countless social service programs year-round.

From its humble beginnings as a fundraiser started by a Salvation Army captain in San Francisco in 1891, the Red Kettle Campaign has grown into one of the most recognizable and important charitable outreach efforts in the United States.  Volunteer Bell Ringers man their "Red Kettles" at approximately 25,000 locations nationwide and a tradition has developed in some locations in which gold coins or rings are anonymously inserted into the kettles.

Plymouth Township Supervisor Kurt Heise, at right, and
Township Clerk Jerry Vorva are all smiles as they ring the
bells for the Salvation Army Red Kettle Campaign.
The pair were ringingon behalf of the Rotary Club and
said they were grateful to all those who donated.
Eighty-three cents of every dollar donated during this time is used to support the organizations many missions throughout the world and in recent years, the Salvation Army has become more high tech, utilizing various computer and internet platforms, social media, an on-line, virtual "Red Kettle" and even an iPad App, complete with a ringing bell.

The Salvation Army and the army of Red Kettle volunteers are important reminders that even in the hustle and bustle of the year-end holidays, this is the perfect time to be charitable, a spokesman said.

The volunteer bell ringers are now out throughout the area and donations, no matter how large or small will have a significant impact on someone less fortunate. The Salvation Army of Metro Detroit is currently accepting applications for Christmas assistance all metro Detroit Salvation Army corps community centers. 

Families with children up to age 14 may apply to receive Christmas assistance to provide their children with toys and other Christmas gifts. All those who sign up for Christmas assistance will receive assistance for holiday meals. 

Applicants must provide proof of all members living in the household. Adults must provide a form of identification - which can include a driver's license or state identification - and proof that they live in the zip code served by the corps at which they are applying (such as a recent utility bill or rent lease). Names and dates of birth for children are required to apply for Christmas assistance.

This year, Salvation Army locations are taking applications in a variety of ways, including online and by phone. Applicants must submit their application to the corps community center which serves their zip code. 

To learn more about how to apply, contact the nearest Salvation Army corps community center. 

For help finding the nearest center, visit or call (248) 443-5500. The Salvation Army office in Plymouth is located at 9451 S. Main St. and can be reached at (734) 414-8210.