Bell-ringers for the Salvation Army and the National Alliance on Mental Illness are out at locations in the Wood River Valley, soliciting donations for their fundraising campaigns.

    The Salvation Army bell-ringers have been out in Ketchum in front of Atkinsons’ Market, and shifted to a location outside of Starbucks on Friday.

    The group also has a kettle in front of King’s Variety Store in Hailey. The kettles and bell-ringers for the Salvation Army will be out until Christmas Eve, Dec. 24.

    All money raised remains in Blaine County and will go to charitable causes. It supports the annual budget for the Salvation Army in the Wood River Valley, Salvation Army representative Richard Brown said.

    Brown said Salvation Army funds have gone to help an elderly resident of Ketchum pay his utility bill to keep his power on and to buy children’s books for the Sun Valley Board of Realtors Community Foundation’s holiday gift baskets.

    On a much larger scale, Brown said, the Salvation Army helped provide meals to firefighters and relief workers during the Castle Rock Fire outside Ketchum in 2007.

    “Our kettles are hosted by volunteers and we have no local employees or overhead,” Brown said. “Everything we raise in our local kettles will stay in Blaine County for charitable causes.”

    The National Alliance on Mental Illness’ Wood River Valley chapter also has bell-ringers out in front of the Albertsons grocery store and the Atkinsons’ in Hailey, and the Atkinsons’ store in Bellevue on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. The NAMI bell-ringers will be out until Christmas Eve, and may resume the following weekend.

NAMI-Wood River Valley board Chairman Tom Hanson said his group wanted to avoid confusion with the Salvation Army bell-ringers, and focus on the south valley.

    Donations to NAMI will fund family support classes for family members of people suffering from mental illnesses, as well as peer-to-peer classes and mentoring.

    “We’re a passionate group,” Hanson said. “You try to help your community. We at NAMI are so thankful for anything.”

Email the writer: pjensen@mtexpress.com

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