SANDPOINT — A successful 2016 kettle bell campaign season resulted in an award presented to the Kiwanis Club of Sandpoint for its outstanding community service during the campaign.
"We all have a lot of fun doing it, it's just a ball," said Dick Vail, Kiwanis Club president. "But what really makes a difference with us is the fact that with everybody that walks by you get a hello or a hi, and we kind of make you smile if you're having a bad day."
The special bell award was presented to Vail and fellow Kiwanis volunteers during the club's noon luncheon on Monday.
Janice Coquillard, Salvation Army field representative for North Idaho, eastern Washington and Montana, said the campaign raised more than $20,000 in Sandpoint. All the money raised stays in the community to help with emergency needs and to send kids to summer camp. The total raised put Sandpoint in first place for donations out of the 17 other communities Coquillard oversees in the Northwest.
"The community gives so much back, to themselves really, because these funds are used to help people in the community," Coquillard said. "There was a lot of volunteers and just a lot of participation."
Several community members volunteered to ring the bell at four locations — Yoke's, Super 1 Foods, Safeway and Walmart — each Friday and Saturday between Thanksgiving and Christmas. The Kiwanis Club adopted the Super 1 Foods location each Saturday during the campaign.
Vail said it is one of the most fun things he does during the year, that and selling cotton candy. He enjoys seeing the children come through and put in their change a nickel at a time, and said the cutest one this season was when a mom had to prompt her son to put the rest of his change in the bucket.
"He still had some in his hand," Vail said with a laugh.
Last year, local volunteers raised $15,000, and $150 million was raised nationwide. Coquillard said it is the only public fundraiser the Salvation Army does each year, so it is an important four weeks with the goal of helping out those in need.
The Salvation Army partners with the Church of the Nazarene to help assist those in the community with emergency needs, such as food, rental assistance, utilities, fuel, prescriptions and more. Some of the donations are used to send children from low-income families to the Salvation Army's summer camp, Camp Gifford, near Spokane each year.
The campaign was started as a holiday tradition in 1891 in by a Salvation Army captain who pledged to feed 1,000 of San Francisco's poorest individuals on Christmas Day. Since then, the campaign has grown across the country and the world.