In red-velvet Santa hats and blinking-light necklaces, AMA Wichita members hit the streets of downtown Thursday, December 14 carrying a well-known red kettle to the familiar sound of ringing bells.
Each year, instead of a December luncheon, AMA Wichita selects a local organization to donate time and raise money. This year, the board chose the Salvation Army in effort to help shelter the homeless in Wichita. The event involved members donating their time to a one-hour bell-ringing shift at one of two downtown locations.
East Side Kettle Ambassador for the Salvation Army, Andy McFayden, joined bell-ringers in Old Town Square dressed in one of his easily-recognizable Christmas-themed suits. He started volunteering with Salvation Army because he admired the mission as well as the uncompromising drive of those who serve.
“It is critical that we all work together for the betterment of Wichita and Sedgwick County,” he said. “I am fortunate to have an employer who understand how important it is that its employees are allowed opportunities to give back to the community we love.”
McFayden, who also won AMA Wichita’s Marketer of the Year in 2017, is the executive director of Marketing and Community Outreach at Wichita Area Technical College, WSU — Campus of Applied Sciences and Technology.
“The most powerful thing I have seen is hundreds of Wichita and Derby citizens giving selflessly to the kettles,” McFayden said. “The Salvation Army has a strong brand that exudes a stellar reputation of being good stewards of the gifts that are placed in those red kettles and providing quality assistance to those in our community who need it most.”
His advice for future bell-ringers: “Never underestimate the power of a genuine smile and an authentic greeting.”
A chilly Thursday night meant foot traffic was light, but bell-ringers collected nearly $160. Salvation Army — Koch Center Director of Community Engagement, Craig Davis, said people don’t realize how far each dollar goes.
AMA Wichita’s $160 helps cover the cost of:
- A night in a Salvation Army shelter, including counseling and medical care
- Food for three children for a week
- Formula for six infants for a week
- Food for five babies for a week
- Heavy coats and hats for three children
- Groceries for three families
- Stock for a Salvation Army mobile food truck
“You’ve made a difference in lives,” Davis said. “Thank you.”
AMA Wichita also set up an online bucket to collect donations from members who couldn’t volunteer to ring or drop a quarter in a kettle downtown.