Riverland FFA answers the bell’s call; College students step up for Salvation Army in need of ringers
Sally Miller stood in the entrance the Austin Hy-Vee on Monday afternoon, ringing a bell to help raise money for the Salvation Army.
Miller, who lives in Kasson, is a sophomore at Riverland Community College. She is a member of the Riverland Agricultural and Food Science Technology Club who, along with members of the Austin High School FFA, volunteered their time to ring bells for the annual fundraiser.
“I am going for an agricultural science degree at Austin,” she said. “The club is trying to get judging teams set up to go do (agricultural and food science) contests.”
Since the RAFST Club’s formation two months ago, it has been involved in community events like this, according to the club’s program coordinator Nick Schiltz, who is an agricultural science instructor at Riverland Community College.
“Being a part of this is part of an extension of their commitment to the community by helping raise funds for the Salvation Army,” Schiltz said. “This event is very dynamic because there is so much pageantry with the holiday season, and the Salvation Army ringing bells is an example.”
According to the Salvation Army, the number of volunteers ringing bells has declined over the years. According to Captain Laura Amick, the Salvation Army shortened its bell-ringing season in the hopes of getting all volunteer slots filled, but they are always seeking more volunteers.
It is a need that Schiltz understands well.
“At this time of year students are busy with work and school, but we’re hoping to have students that can be a part of the project,” he said.
Monday afternoon and evening was the only time this year the RAFST Club will be participating in the bell ringing event, but Schiltz hopes to have more opportunities next year.
“We’re very proud to be a part of the Austin community, and for us to tell our story in Austin is a powerful concept,” he said. “There’s that local twist and one of our strengths is to encourage the students to get involved in their community.”