Belk says bell ringers will be back at stores this Christmas sea - FOX Carolina 21

Belk says bell ringers will be back at stores this Christmas season

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A patron drops some change into a Salvation Army kettle outside an Upstate store. (file/FOX Carolina) A patron drops some change into a Salvation Army kettle outside an Upstate store. (file/FOX Carolina)

Belk said its customers were "loud and clear" about their desire to see Salvation Army Red Kettle bell ringers outside stores during the Christmas shopping season, and the bell ringers will be welcome outside all stores.

Andy Izquierdo, Vice President of Communications and Community Relations for Belk, said the department store chain had initially decided not to encourage bell ringers this year since the store is launching a "Home for the Holiday" campaign in partnership with Habitat for Humanity.

The program will seek to collect donations from customers at nearly 300 Belk stores across the country in order to build a home for a family in need. Each store is assigned a specific part of the home for which they are responsible for collecting donations.

Izquierdo said Belk has never had a formal relationship with the Salvation Army and initially left it up to the individual stores each holiday season to decide if Red Kettle bell ringers were allowed out front. This year, however, Izquierdo said the company wants to focus specifically on the Home for the Holiday cause. 

On Monday, Izquierdo confirmed that Belk will once again welcome Salvation Army bell ringers this year after customers weighed in.

"The Salvation Army Bell Ringers have been a fixture at some of our stores for decades," Izquierdo stated in an e-mail. "With this holiday campaign, we were hoping to drive awareness and fundraising for the important work of Habitat for Humanity.  But when our customers speak, we listen.  And our customers have been loud and clear about their passion for the Salvation Army.  We have had a long relationship with the Salvation Army, and they are absolutely welcome at all of our 294 stores. The Salvation Army was always going to be a part of our community strategy in the future—we are just making sure they are part of the present as well."

Donations to the Home for the Holidays campaign can be made at the register in Belk stores from Nov. 23 to Dec. 16.

A spokesperson for the Salvation Army released the following statement regarding the loss of some of its Red Kettle collection locations:

Due to the restructuring of community impact programs with partnering retail locations, The Salvation Army is anticipating a significant loss in dollars raised as part of the 2017 Red Kettle Campaign. In our local market, The Salvation Army is seeking to offset this deficit by gaining new community partners and increasing digital fundraising efforts.
The Salvation Army asks the community to please donate either in a red kettle or online this Christmas season. Donations are imperative to continue "Doing the Most Good" by serving those most in need in our market.  

Click here to donate to the Salvation Army Red Kettle campaign.

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