The Salvation Army’s new Red Kettle campaign leader has reinvigorated the group’s annual campaign, but with so much hardship, more help is needed
“The goal is high, and the need is super high,” said Lois Lanser, the Ozaukee County coordinator for the Salvation Army’s Red Kettle campaign.
Lanser was named the county’s kettle coordinator in August and has been busy ever since lining up bell ringers to entice people to dig deeper into their pockets to help those in need.
“I love it,” Lanser said of her new job. “You meet the nicest people. People are very generous. I’m impressed with how generous they are.”
Lanser, who lives in Port Washington, said she and her husband Randy rang bells for four years at the Sentry store in Port Washington before she volunteered to be the county coordinator.
The previous coordinator left no records of bell ringers or amounts collected, Lanser said, which made her job challenging.
“I’m still looking for individuals or groups to help out,” she said. “The average amount collected in Ozaukee County over the past years is $32,000, and I want to collect at least that much.”
Lanser, who is involved in numerous organizations and has a large family, called people she knew and they, in turn, suggested other volunteers. Her goal is to get adult and youth organizations to volunteer to man the kettles for a day, but individuals and families are also needed.
“It takes a lot of people to man the kettles,” Lanser said. “It was a lot of work from august to November. I found groups like the Leathernecks and St. Peter’s Men Club and they knew other groups. It’s like a big spider web.”
Lanser is responsible for scheduling bell ringers for the kettles at Sentry in Port, Walmart in Saukville and McDonald’s restaurant in Fredonia.
Ozaukee Congregational Church in Grafton handles the kettles there, and the Peter Wollner American Legion Post 288 takes care of Cedarburg. Lanser is looking for an organization to coordinate the Mequon-Thiensville area.
“What I like about the Salvation Army is 96% (of the money collected) goes to the charity, and 86% stays in Ozaukee County,” Lanser said.
“We have a huge need in the county, and people don’t realize it. There are poor and homeless people here.”
Lanser encourages her three sons and their families to participate. She and her husband like to have their grandchildren with them when they are bell ringers.
“I want the grandkids to know they can give back and don’t have to receive something all the time,” Lanser said. “I want them to know not everybody is as fortunate as they are. They know about the Salvation Army and that this money will help people with heating bills or provide a meal.”
In addition to finding bell ringers for the large kettles, Lanser is also responsible for the 47 counter kettles that can be found at businesses throughout the county.
“Those have helped tremendously and bring in a lot of money,” she said.
Because Thanksgiving was late this year, the campaign is one week shorter than most years. The kettles will be out through Dec. 31 and more volunteers are needed.
To volunteer or for more information, call Lanser at (414) 750-0972.
Image Information: RINGING BELLS at the Salvation Army’s kettle at the Sentry store in Port Washington on Tuesday were Ozaukee County kettle coordinator Lois Lanser and her grandchildren Audrey, 2, Claire, 4, Mason, 9, and Madison, 5, Lanser. Photo by Sam Arendt