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As families carve pumpkins and kids pick out Halloween costumes, one organization prepares to hit their biggest goal yet this holiday season.

Rogers County Salvation Army has set its bell ringing fundraising goal at $100,000.

“We need more money than ever,” Bell Ringing Director Jerry Hayes said. “We can definitely use it for the programs we have in place.”

Hayes said the bell ringing program is the biggest revenue generator for the Rogers County Salvation Army that goes to support the many programs they have.

“What we generate here in this county, we spend here in this county,” he said.

The Food 4 Kids program has seen an increase in demand.

“We have grown unbelievably,” Food 4 Kids Director Angie Graves said. “Specifically this month, we had 127 more kids then we had last year.”

The program, which started in 2009 with 30 kids, feeds 555 students in schools across Rogers County.

Graves said two schools have either doubled or tripled the number of students enrolled in the program.

Graves said each student receives nine items to feed them for the entire weekend every weekend throughout the school year.

President Jim Spangler said the food is purchased by the program that way they can provide a better balanced diet.

“Each child, not matter what, get’s the same bag every other child got,” he said.

To keep up with the rising costs of food, Graves said they are increasing the amount from $125 to $135 per child for the whole year.

Hayes said the increased price of food and increased demand from kids in the community ties into the need for more volunteers.

“The big challenge will be in the short six-week period – the week before Thanksgiving to Christmas – is crucial for us to be able to maintain our volume and support the programs,” he said.

Hayes said they raised $75,000 last year, but had a hard time finding volunteers because of COVID.

“We need volunteers to put the food together, we need volunteers to ring the bell, we need volunteers to organize – everything is volunteers,” he said.

Graves said 80 volunteers are needed for the Food 4 Kids program in order to get the food picked up, unpacked, packed and delivered to the schools.

“We’re supported by volunteers,” she said.

Graves said they pack food on the last Monday and Tuesday of every month at the Claremore Public Schools Administration Building, 102 W. 10th St.

Graves said several school groups help including Verdigris 4-H, Claremore FFA, Claremore ROTC, several churches, and individuals.

“That’s a blessing,” she said. “Huge blessing.”

For bell ringing, Hayes said volunteers ring the bell from Monday – Saturday at 70 locations across Rogers County.

Those interested in volunteering can reach the Rogers County Salvation Army at info@rogerscountysalvationarmy.org.

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