VERO BEACH, Fla. — The iconic bell ring from the Salvation Army's Red Kettle Bell-Ringing program collects donations for those in need during the holiday season.
This year, in many communities in Palm Beach and the Treasure Coast, the need for help with services is greater than ever, the amount of volunteers isn't keeping up, according to Captain Kelvin Garcia with the Salvation Army of Vero Beach.
"For some reason we are lacking volunteers," Garcia said.
Garcia said the nonprofit usually budgets for 4,000 hours of bell-ringing each year, and fills about 3,000 hours.
This year, only 1,000 hours are covered during their biggest fundraiser of the year.
"About 40 percent of our budget is up to this fundraising," Garcia said.
Garcia also said the need for help paying for rent, utilities and food has increased by 50% compared to 2022. The organization is now paying about $20,000 to $25,000 each month.
He said the deficit will take a toll on the way the organization usually meets the need in the community.
"Which means in the long run, we have to cut some services that is providing for those in need in this community," Garcia said.
He said he didn't know why volunteers weren't donating efforts this year, but bell-ringers Marlene and Jim Seitan said Friday that the community was still coming out to donate.
"No doubt about that," Jim Seitan said.
The couple said they've volunteered every year for the past five years, and said they see the need in their community increasing.
"With inflation, what it is, when you go in the store, it's really hard," Jim Seitan said.
If you're interested in becoming a bell ringer, you can sign up here.