‘Shift the Sheriff’ to kick off annual Red Kettle Campaign

By Patrick Lynn

A former Portage Co. Sheriff will lend a hand to help kick off the 2018 Red Kettle Campaign.

Or rather, he’ll lend his whole body.

The Salvation Army of Portage County kicks off its annual bell-ringing campaign, the organization’s primary fundraisers, on Nov. 9.

Former Sheriff John Charewicz. (Courtesy Portage Co. Sheriff’s Office)

The following day, former Sheriff John Charewicz will perch himself in a bucket truck in the parking lot of Trig’s, 1600 Academy Ave., until 100 volunteers have committed to ringing bells.

The event is being called “I Shifted the Sheriff”, according to a press release from the Salvation Army, and beings at 9 a.m.

Anyone interested in signing up for a bell-ringing shift can stop by to register; each volunteer “shifts” Charewicz down in the bucket life, which is being donated by Disher Electric. An onsite computer will register bell-ringers in real time.

Charewicz, who retired from the sheriff’s office in 2015 after four terms in office, has been a long supporter of the Salvation Army, saying he was “game for anything” when it came to endorsing the cause.

“I had no idea it would mean being perched above a parking lot recruiting bell ringers,” he said. “But to steal a phrase from ‘It’s A Wonderful Life’, ‘Every time a shift fills, the sheriff will be thrilled’.”

Volunteers can also register online at RegisterToRing.com, or by calling the Salvation Army of Portage County at (715) 341-2437. Shifts are available at 10 locations Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. t0 8 p.m. in Stevens Point, Park Ridge, and Plover.

The Salvation Army said an average of $100 is collected every hour when a donation station is staffed by a bell-ringer. Unattended kettles raise only $5 an hour, the release said.

The goal for the 2018 Red Kettle campaign in Portage County is $200,000.