Red Kettle Campaign kicks off with local support

By Brandi Makuski

It was a bitterly cold Friday morning when representatives from state and local governments, as well as local police and fire departments, gathered in the parking lot of Trigs grocery store on Nov. 13 to formally kick off the 2020 Red Kettle Campaign.

It’s the Salvation Army’s biggest fundraiser of the year.

Appearances were made by State Senator Patrick Testin, Assemblywoman Katrina Shankland, Mayor Mike Wiza, and Plover Administrator Dan Mahoney. All four encouraged people to step forward and volunteer.

Ed Wilson, director of the Stevens Point Hope Center, said the group’s goal is collecting $200,000 in donations through Christmas Eve.

Bob Quam. (Contributed)

Wilson said it’s already been a tough year for the organization; not just because of the unique challenges related to the COVID pandemic, but because it lost one of its longtime members, Bob Quam, who regularly oversaw public events like the Red Kettle Campaign. Quam died in September.

“A great leader like Bob, he loved this time of year,” Wilson told the crowd. “He knew this is what it’s all about—he knew it was going to be long hours, he knew it was going to be a tough time, but he looked beyond that. He knew we were going to be able to help a lot of people. That really warmed Bob’s heart. He was a great friend of mine, and we miss him a lot. I miss the laughter.”

In honor of Quam, Wilson declared Nov. 24 as Bob Quam Day for the Salvation Army’s Red Kettle Campaign.

Wiza, who has already signed up to ring, encouraged others to do the same.

“I’m going to challenge everyone to go to registertoring.com If there’s one thing we can all do, it’s donate [sic] a little bit of our time to ring a bell and bring awareness to the needs of the Salvation Army,” Wiza said. “It gets you out of the house, you’ve got a wear a mask anyway, it keeps you warm, and you get to see some people.”

Wiza also levied a challenge to “the city council, county board, town boards” to volunteer.

This year included a virtual kettle at sastevespoint.org, an adopt-a-family program, an angel tree, and an incentive for those who ring bells: for every two-hour shift worked, a volunteer gets their name entered into a drawing for several gift card prizes.

To register, go to registertoring.com.