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Salvation Army bell ringers return with increased need this holiday season

Rogelio Aguilar and his daughter, Kaylee, volunteer as bell-ringers to collect donations for the Salvation Army
Angel Russell
Rogelio Aguilar and his daughter, Kaylee, volunteer as bell-ringers to collect donations for the Salvation Army

The bells are ringing again this year, as the Salvation Army is back out in front of shopping centers seeking donations.

Organizers say the demand is particularly high because of the economic impact brought on by the pandemic, and they could use more volunteers.

“It’s part of every Christmas," said Rogelio Auguilar. "You hear the Salvation Army bells and you know it's that time of year again.”

Rogelio Auguilar is Ministry Director for the Salvation Army. He says he personally knows how important the organization's services are for families.

“I was five years old when I joined the Salvation Army, and my mom received assistance from the Salvation Army," Auguliar said. "We were a family of seven, and we were very, very needy.”

Now, every holiday season Auguilar, his wife Rose and their three children bell ring to help other families.

“I have my 14-year-old, my 12-year-old and my 10-year-old today with me," Rose Auguliar said. "And they’ve kettled ever since they were 5 years old.”

Rose said the need for services the Salvation Army provides has grown throughout this pandemic.

“My daughter is playing the clarinet out here with us, she tried to memorize quite a few songs for Christmas," Rogelio said. "It's good for the kids to learn to give and not just receive during the holidays.”

You may come across Rogelio and his family bell-ringing on the weekends outside of store fronts, and if you don’t have any change to drop in the red bucket, there are other ways to donate.

“If you go to SloRedKettle.org you'll find our virtual red kettle to donate online,” Rose said.

Those interested in volunteering can contact Rogelio Auguliar at 323-316-7097 for San Luis Obispo County, and Tony Markiewicz at 805-964-8738 for Santa Barbara County.

Angel Russell is a former KCBX News reporter who started her career in journalism as a reporter and producer for KREX on Colorado's Western Slope; she later moved to the Central Coast to work for KSBY as weekend anchor and weekday reporter. She holds a BA in journalism from the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, and playing guitar and piano.
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