As the holiday season returns to Centre County, with it come visible — and audible — signs of giving and opportunities to volunteer.
Starting Black Friday, Salvation Army volunteers will set up their red kettles and ring bells as they greet shoppers at six locations throughout the area, envoy Betty Ellen Barrett said.
Volunteers will be out daily until Christmas Eve. Locally, the Salvation Army assists in funding senior and youth programs and, last year, helped about 900 families with needs such as utility and rent assistance, she said.
It takes 500 to 700 volunteers to perform the kettle campaign. Besides staffing kettles, the Salvation Army is looking for volunteers to assist with other activities, such as answering telephones and sorting toys, Barrett said. Anyone who wants to volunteer can sign up on the Salvation Army of Centre County website.
Interfaith Human Services will also start collecting money through its annual Wishing Well program on Black Friday, executive director Ruth Donahue said.
Wishing Wells are set up daily at the Corner Room, 100 W. College Ave., from 11 a.m.-7 p.m. and at Meyer Dairy, 2390 S. Atherton St., from 10 a.m.-9 p.m. A well will also be at the Benner Pike Wal-Mart on Sundays, she said.
The wells usually yield $12,000-$14,000, Donahue said. Money raised through the Wishing Wells assists low-income Centre County residents.
“We appreciate the generosity of people helping support county residents in need,” Donahue said.
Charitable donations can be given in lieu of more standard presents at the annual Alternative Christmas Fair, at University Baptist and Brethren Church in State College.
The purpose of the fair is to give a donation to a participating charity in the name of a loved one or friend instead of buying them a gift, UBB Pastor Bonnie Kline Smeltzer said.
This year, 24 charities will take part in the fair. Representatives from each will be on hand to explain the mission of their respective charity. Most are locally based, such as Centre County PAWS and House of Care. Others, such as Habitat For Humanity, are nationally affiliated.
“Everyone is welcome to come and it’s a wonderful way to give gifts to loved ones that help people around the world,” Kline Smeltzer said.