MECOSTA, LAKE, OSCEOLA COUNTIES — Salvation Army bell ringer Brian Carr was in gear and ready to take donations as he spent his Thursday morning in front of JCPenny during the Salvation Army's opening day of the red kettle campaign.

"I like being around people, and it's a good thing we're doing. It does a lot of good for a lot of people," Carr said. "The change adds up, and every little bit counts."

According to Salvation Army Envoy Ed Hoskins, the red kettle campaign is one of Salvation Army's largest fundraising efforts of the year, providing them with various opportunities to give back to the community as well as those in need.

"It helps with everything from sending kids to camp for the summer, to helping with assistance for families throughout the year," Hoskins said. "It helps fund our after school programs as well and also the special meals we do for the community."

Hoskins also said money from the kettle campaign helps with their Angel Tree campaign, which provides kids with toys for Christmas.

Beginning in some areas Nov. 14, Hoskins said other kettle bell locations will be ringing their bells beginning Nov. 21, with everyone up and running by the day after Thanksgiving.

"It's an all-around good feeling to be raising the funds to help people throughout the year, and to help people with a job or with volunteering. It's just one of the most important things we do," he said.

As well as those who can be seen outside of local businesses, Hoskins said there are many stores who have "counter kettles" where customers can donate money.

"We always are very grateful to the community of Big Rapids as well as surrounding areas. They always come through for us every Christmas. We're so appreciative and we cannot do what we do without the help of everyone who steps up this time of year," Hoskins said.

The red kettle campaign runs Monday through Saturday and will last until Christmas Eve.

Those interested in volunteering can visit, type in "49307" and find a location near them. Shifts can range from a two-hour block to a full day.

"Volunteer however you want to and however you're able to do it," Hoskins said.