Carter serves as Salvation Army 'kettle convincer'

RANTOUL — Holladay Thompson calls Margurette Carter the local Salvation Army “ringer wrangler.”

She credits Carter, a member of the Salvation Army board of directors, with the number of people who have volunteered to ring the bells at the local County Market and Walmart stores.

But Carter isn’t out there on her horse using a lariat to pull in ringers. She prefers the subtle approach. She lets people know on Facebook that bell ringers are needed and leaves it up to them to decide whether they want to volunteer.  

Last year marked the first year Carter had requested volunteers to ring the bells for donations for Salvation Army’s worthy causes.

“I don’t get down (to Champaign) to participate in a lot of our programs, like when we’re getting ready to pass out coats and pass out toys, because of my commitment at the youth center,” Carter said.

The youth center work involves what she calls the “academic hour” in which she assists kindergarten through fifth-grade children in being diligent in doing their homework and studies in general. The program, Carter’s brainchild, is like the SA bell ringing — voluntary.

Carter, who has never shied away from getting involved, retired after a 34-year career in education. She is also a former Rantoul village trustee.

Thompson, like Carter a member of the Salvation Advisory board, said Carter “has made all the difference in the world in Rantoul” in recruiting SA ringers in the community. And Thompson said the ringers are enthusiastic about helping “and bring good results.”

Carter doesn’t want or like the spotlight. She prefers others get the credit.

“She’s a very modest, self-effacing person who would never be one to brag on her own efforts,” Thompson said.

Carter said many of the same people who volunteered last year have done so again in 2018. But despite the recruitment efforts, not all the slots are filled.

Four two-hour shifts, six days a week, are available to ring the bells at the two stores (there are two ringers, one at each door, at Walmart). They are 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., 1 to 3 p.m., 3 to 5 p.m. and 5 to 7 p.m.

Last year, some bell ringers even sang to add to the holiday atmosphere. And Rantoul firefighters Jeremy Larson and Chad Smith brought a fire truck to Walmart while they rang the bells.

Carter likes to see youth get involved and said it is a good way for parents to teach their children to give. She especially enjoys having her former students volunteer, some of whom bring their children.

Youth from Rantoul United Methodist and Christian Life churches have been volunteers, and this year youth from St. Malachy are scheduled as well.

Youth Center Director Andy Graham also brought a group of children from the center to participate last year.

Carter appreciates the giving attitude of Rantoul area residents.

“I think people have been pretty generous,” she said. “When I go down and sort the money, it’s good to see our kettles quite full. When (Larson and Smith) did it, they had to bring out an extra kettle” because so many people were donating.

Carter also volunteers to ring. She said volunteering is an enjoyable experience. Not only does she get to ring the bell, she also likes speaking to the many people who stop by to chat.

The colder temperatures closer to Christmas don’t seem to deter volunteers. There are just as many then as in November.

Carter said she never looks at what the temp will be when she is out there ringing because she “doesn’t want to psych myself out.”

She just tells people to dress warm in layers.

Carter takes a photo of each volunteer, posts it on Facebook and asks the community to thank them for their service.

Each evening, Salvation Army personnel come to Rantoul to collect the money. Carter assists in sorting the different monetary denominations but doesn’t count the currency.

“Last year ... I got a couple of hundred dollar bills,” she said.

This year’s Salvation Army goal is $195,000.

Money collected in the Salvation Army kettles goes toward a number of people-helping programs. The programs range from a Monday-through-Friday food bank; a

Pathway of Hope year-long program to assist and counsel people who face income, employment and housing needs; help finding employment and teaching money management for recently released prison inmates; a housing program for families on a short-term basis; and emergency help either locally or on a more national scale such as hurricane-ravaged areas.

dhinton@rantoulpress.com

 

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