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Fox River Grove woman volunteers to ring Salvation Army bell for 11 hours

Helen Wiedenfeld stuck out the cold weather in front of Walgreens in Fox River Grove to close out the season Saturday for The Salvation Army's red kettle campaign.
Helen Wiedenfeld stuck out the cold weather in front of Walgreens in Fox River Grove to close out the season Saturday for The Salvation Army's red kettle campaign.

FOX RIVER GROVE – Helen Wiedenfeld stuck out the cold weather in front of Walgreens in Fox River Grove to close out the season Saturday for The Salvation Army red kettle campaign.

Wiedenfeld stayed at her post for an 11-hour shift because of The Salvation Army’s volunteer shortage this season.

“I thought I would call and there would be two or three hours open,” she said. “But they told me the whole day was open. I had read The Salvation Army was short on ringers, so I took the whole thing.”

The Salvation Army of McHenry County serves the community year-round with emergency support and assistance, such as when the Fox River flooded or a Marengo home exploded over the summer. The organization also holds after-school programs and music lessons, and offers other social and youth programs.

The red kettle campaign typically funds 50 percent to 60 percent of the budget to provide those services, according to The Salvation Army.

The organization fell short of its goal in 2016 because of freezing temperatures. There are 52 locations in McHenry County with bell ringers, including spots in Algonquin, Harvard, Huntley, Island Lake, Johnsburg, Marengo, McHenry and Woodstock. Saturday marked the organization’s last day of the season.

Wiedenfeld hadn’t volunteered as a ringer before, but she said she was inspired to give back in this way by her brother, who once volunteered to ring the bell for 26.2 hours.

“He was a marathon runner, so he chose 26.2 hours for that reason,” she said. “So I thought, ‘Why can’t I do 11?’ ”

Wiedenfeld said that despite the chilly weather, people seemed to be in the giving mood.

“People are in good spirits and contributing when they can,” she said.

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