NORTH ROYALTON – Sleigh bells ring are you listening.
OK, it’s not sleigh bells, but a familiar bell can be heard ringing at Giant Eagle now.
Beginning the day after Thanksgiving and continuing through Christmas Eve, the city’s Office on Aging, Rotary Club, Key Club, Kiwanis and Royalton Hills Lions, as they have done for more than a decade, are partnering as part of the red kettle drive that benefits the North Royalton branch of the Salvation Army.
Everything that is raised during this time stays within the community 100 percent, which is unique.
Dollars collected are used to provide North Royalton children in need with clothing vouchers to the Salvation Army store in Strongsville, support the homeless in the community and bolster the holiday food drive program if necessary.
North Royalton residents take the event seriously and are always very generous. In fact, last year the red kettle collected an incredible $7,000, $1,000 of which was received on Christmas Eve alone. The annual one-day, Christmas in July event raises an additional $800 for the cause.
“People are very generous, very generous. We hope everyone donates generously to help the project this year too,” said Judy Willey, director of the office on aging. “All the money stays within the city of North Royalton.”
Volunteers from the four local service clubs are manning the kettle, which is set up in the Giant Eagle lobby. Bell ringing is done between 2-8 p.m. Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays and from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays.
“The store is really, really great to let us come in there. At a lot of places, you have to stand outside. We are fortunate we can stand in the lobby,” said Donna Urban, past president of the Royalton Hills Lions.
A small, unmanned kettle is also set up at Drug Mart during normal shopping hours.
Urban said she believes the program does so well because residents know the dollars raised are used to help fellow Royalton neighbors in need.
“The money raised does stay here, it does not go to any other areas. I think that’s the most important thing. I think that’s why we probably do as well as we do. When we collect it here, it stays here,” Urban stressed.
She said there’s a misconception that North Royalton residents are all well off and do not need assistance. That’s not the case.
“A lot of people think Royalton is a rich community, but there are a lot of poor people here just like any community,” Urban said.
Ward 3 Councilman Dan Langshaw, a Kiwanis member, spent his Friday night last week ringing the bell.
“I enjoy volunteering in our community and helping my fellow residents in need. I am so blessed to live in such a great community where I feel it is important to pay it forward, those blessings,” Langshaw said. “It was so rewarding to see all those who stopped by to make a donation no matter how big or small. Every donation collected will make it a better Christmas for a family here in our community in need. It is such a great way to start this holiday season off right.”
Urban said this is definitely a charity those interested in giving dollars or their time should consider being a part of.
“What’s two hours ringing the bell? Plus, you never know when you might need assistance,” she said.