NEW BRITAIN - This year for the first time Brenda Torres, the owner of Criollisimo Restaurant, will have a Salvation Army bell ringer outside the establishment to help raise money for the local organization.
“I love Christmas and I love to help people who have no presents or anything in their house,” said Torres on why she chose to participate in the New Britain Salvation Army’s annual Red Kettle fundraising drive. “I like to help. I think what they do is amazing. They do a lot of things for the community.”
With an influx of displaced people from the storms in Florida and Puerto Rico, the New Britain Salvation Army needs to raise funds to continue disaster relief along with their regular emergency shelter, food pantry and other programs, said New Britain Salvation Army Capt. Larry Goodman.
“We have 300 people a week from Florida and Puerto Rico coming to Connecticut,” Goodman said. “There is a tremendous increase in the need for resources and that’s only part of the services that we provide.”
The annual Red Kettle campaign known by many for its bell ringers who stand outside businesses gathering donations is the local organization’s largest fundraiser of the year. The money raised goes toward supporting the emergency shelter for men at 78 Franklin Square, the food pantry, holiday meals for hundreds of city residents who can’t afford to buy their own and many other programs run by the New Britain Salvation Army.
The goal is not only to see to immediate needs of people but also provide them with the tools to get back on their feet, Goodman said.
Bell ringers who will be collecting for the New Britain Salvation Army will be stationed outside Criollisimo at 340 Arch St., Stop & Shop on Farmington Avenue in Berlin, Stop & Shop on Corbin Avenue in New Britain, Big Lots on the Berlin Turnpike in Newington, Sam’s Club off Deming Road in Berlin, Walgreens pharmacy on Farmington Avenue in Berlin, and Macy’s and Lord & Taylor at Westfarms Mall. The proceeds from those locations will go to support programs run by the New Britain Salvation Army.
The bell ringers will start in some locations Nov. 13. They will be in full swing 10 hours a day starting the day after Thanksgiving. The Salvation Army is looking for volunteers who would be willing to take shifts so that they can reduce the number of paid bell ringers. Members of civic organizations can take turns bell ringing in few hour shifts, Goodman said. “Just call us and we’ll figure out which days and what works best for you,” he said.
People often don’t realize the impact that volunteering for even just a few hours as bell ringer can have on the community, Goodman said. “Just a couple of hours can feed, 30, 40 or 50 people,” he said. “We are able to get food cheaply and stretch our dollars a long way.”
Torres said she is honored to be among the businesses that are participating in the Red Kettle drive. “I think our customers will be excited,” she said. “This is the first time a Latin restaurant is participating. I know people will support it. I have good customers, they are good people who like to give.”
To volunteer as a bell ringer for the Red Kettle drive for the New Britain Salvation Army, call 860-225-8491.