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Salvation Army helpers could use a helping hand

Although the local Salvation Army thrift store is gone, the social programs run by the local charity are alive and well, said social services coordinator Leah Fosle, in an interview earlier this year.

But they need money to fund those services, and more than half of those funds comes from one annual fundraising campaign: the Red Kettle program. Those are the bright red kettles manned by volunteers at Super One, L&M and Walmart in Cloquet each year.

A manned kettle can bring in $40 an hour or more. An unmanned kettle brings in zero, because they can’t leave the kettle out without a volunteer standing by. That’s why it matters.

Anyone willing to volunteer is asked to go to http://www.registertoring.com and enter the Cloquet zip code 55720. Shifts are two hours long. Volunteers can sign up to ring individually or with a group, whether it’s a bunch of folks who like to sing Christmas carols to shoppers or a family that wants to give back. They especially need people to ring during weekdays at Walmart, as volunteers are harder to come by during the workday.

The money raised stays local, and helps pay for services the charity provides the rest of the year.

Help is available

One of the most utilized and well-known local services is the Salvation Army food shelf, open to Carlton County residents Mondays 4:30-6 p.m. and Tuesdays from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. in the back of the Salvation Army building at 316 Carlton Ave. in Cloquet.

Because they are still under pandemic protocols, there is no income requirement to utilize the food shelf, but paperwork is required. Other services include help with rent and deposits, bus tickets, utilities assistance (HeatShare), gas vouchers and up to two nights in a hotel for someone in urgent need. They can refer people to addiction or mental health services.

The intake process usually takes about five minutes, although Fosle said she never hurries a conversation with a person in crisis. “Conversation is welcomed and encouraged,” she said. “Less transactional and more personal is really what we’re aiming for.”

Fosle said a bout of Covid that prevents an hourly employee from working might lead to problems paying the utility bill or rent — they can help with that too.

Questions? Call 218-879-1693 to find out more.