FORT MYERS, Fla. — The Salvation Army's iconic kettle season kicked off with a 24-hour Ring-A-Thon event Friday.
"It's the beginning of our Red Kettle Campaign for the Salvation Army, our main fundraising opportunity for the year," said Vicki Poff, scheduler for the Red Kettle Campaign.
The fundraiser starts every year the day after Thanksgiving, but this year, since Thanksgiving came a week late, the campaign got creative to make up for the lost week worth of fundraising.
"We were brainstorming and were like what if we start at midnight the minute we can start ringing the bells," said Poff, adding that this is the first time they host a Ring-A-Thon event in this area.
As part of the Ring-A-Thon event, volunteers began ringing their bells soon as the clock struck midnight on Friday, and did not stop until 11:59 p.m.
The red kettle campaign says they need at least 1,600 volunteer hours to help make up for the $100,000 deficit caused from getting a late start this year.
One of today's volunteers was Jonathan Gardella, a student who used his musical talents to bring in more donations.
"It brings me joy to bring people [joy] as they come in a come out," said Gardella.
Another student was Kilian Duffy, who sang holiday songs to get people in the giving spirit.
Duffy excitedly sang Silent Night as customers walked in and out of the store.
Year-round the Salvation Army helps homeless shelters, food pantries, and during the holiday season gives to those in need.
Click here to find out how you can also give back.