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Alarm bells: As the holidays approach, The Salvation Army needs bell ringers

GREENSBORO — The number of volunteers willing to stand outside and ring a bell for The Salvation Army this holiday season is considerably down, so the charitable organization will pay some people to do it.

It’s a thankless job, well, you know the rest.

The familiar ding of The Salvation Army bell is as much a part of the holidays as stress and long lines. This year, there will be about 35 locations across the area where the organization’s kettles will be positioned outside of stores to receive donations.

Wanted: A warm body to stand in the cold.

“When you have to cover that many places for over a month, you need hundreds of ringers,” explained Nathan Lawson, a marketing and public relations coordinator with The Salvation Army of Greensboro.

The organization isn’t looking for a specific number of volunteers since shifts, which can be four to five hours, might be covered by a group. Rather, it’s all about the shift hours that need to be filled.

By the agency’s math, there are 8,667 hours to fill.

So far, 2,121 hours have been reserved by volunteers.

“The way the holidays are coming into play, I’m wondering if people’s mindsets aren’t quite focused on the holidays yet,” Lawson said. “And then by the time Thanksgiving is here, they are thinking about it. But by that time, we will be well within our collection season.”

Of course, there’s the possibility that people don’t want to be outside for that long.

Lawson said a single shift doesn’t have to be done by one person.

“They can divvy that up if they want to get with another family or a group or a church if that is too many hours at one stand,” Lawson said.

Meanwhile, to help keep those kettles manned, The Salvation Army will actually pay some ringers about $8 an hour.

“It’s a great seasonal opportunity for those in our community to make ends meet during this important time,” Lawson said.

Still, volunteers are preferred. And for those who have already signed up, Salvation Army Capt. Matt Hedgren is grateful.

“We would like to thank all of our volunteers and those who come to work for us to make a difference in this community,” he said.


catching up:

Durham wins $1M grant to ease backlog of tests

DURHAM — A $1 million grant has been awarded to a police department in a city that has one of the largest backlogs of untested sexual assault kits in the state.

A 2018 report found Durham had about 1,700 untested kits, one of several cities that had a backlog.

Police Chief C.J. Davis says the department pursued the grant from the federal Bureau of Justice Assistance to prioritize solving sexual assault cases.

The funding will pay for a prosecutor, two investigators and a bilingual victim and witness assistant. The assistant is tasked with reducing trauma and aiding victims and witnesses through the legal process.

Military appeal:

Court to hear request by Bergdahl’s lawyers

FORT BRAGG — A military court has agreed to hear an appeal by a U.S. Army soldier who left his post in Afghanistan and was held prisoner by the Taliban for five years.

The court will examine whether statements by President Donald Trump and the late U.S. Sen. John McCain unfairly influenced Bowe Bergdahl’s trial.

Bergdahl’s lawyers argue that McCain threatened to conduct a hearing at the Senate Armed Services Committee if Bergdahl went unpunished. The lawyers also cite multiple instances of Trump making disparaging comments about Bergdahl.

People in the military’s chain of command are forbidden from saying anything that could interfere with a military court case.

Bergdahl pleaded guilty in 2017 to desertion. He was spared prison time but was dishonorably discharged as a private.

hiding history: Logo covers dedication plaque at UNC stadiumCHAPEL hill — A temporary logo has been placed over one of the plaques at UNC-Chapel Hill’s Kenan Memorial Stadium. The plaque was dedicated to William Rand Kenan Sr., who was a leader of a violent coup in 1898.

Last year, then-Chancellor Carol Folt said the university would remove references to Kenan and focus on his son, William Rand Kenan Jr., who paid to have the stadium dedicated to his parents’ memory.

This day in history

In 1620, the passengers and crew of the Mayflower sighted Cape Cod.In 1872, fire destroyed nearly 800 buildings in Boston.

In 1938, Nazis looted and burned synagogues as well as Jewish-owned stores and houses in Germany and Austria in a pogrom or deliberate persecution that became known as “Kristallnacht.”

In 1961, The Beatles’ future manager, Brian Epstein, first saw the group perform at The Cavern Club in Liverpool, England.

In 1965, the great Northeast blackout began as a series of power failures lasting up to 13 1/2 hours, leaving 30 million people in seven states and part of Canada without electricity.

In 1970, former French President Charles de Gaulle died at age 79.

In 1976, the U.N. General Assembly approved resolutions condemning apartheid in South Africa, including one characterizing the white-ruled government as “illegitimate.”

In 1989, communist East Germany threw open its borders, allowing citizens to travel freely to the West; joyous Germans danced atop the Berlin Wall.

In 1999, with fireworks, concerts and a huge party at the landmark Brandenburg Gate, Germany celebrated the 10th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall.

In 2000, George W. Bush’s lead over Al Gore in all-or-nothing Florida slipped beneath 300 votes in a suspense-filled recount, as Democrats threw the presidential election to the courts, claiming “an injustice unparalleled in our history.”

In 2005, three suicide bombers carried out nearly simultaneous attacks on three U.S.-based hotels in Amman, Jordan, killing 60 victims and wounding hundreds.

In 2007, President Gen. Pervez Musharraf of Pakistan placed opposition leader Benazir Bhutto under house arrest for a day, and rounded up thousands of her supporters to block a mass rally against his emergency rule.

In 2009, the Dow Jones industrial average rose 203.52, or 2%, to 10,226.94, its highest finish since Oct. 3, 2008, as a falling dollar boosted prices for gold, oil and other commodities. Germany celebrated the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall.

In 2011, after 46 seasons as Penn State’s head football coach and a record 409 victories, Joe Paterno was fired along with the university president, Graham Spanier, over their handling of child sex abuse allegations against former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky.

In 2014, the citizens of Berlin released almost 7,000 balloons into the night sky, many carrying messages of hope to mark the 25th anniversary since the fall of the wall that had once divided their city.