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Marathon kettle ringers net $37K

Photo by Meg Heaton Looking slightly tired from the experience, Jeremy Lilyquist, left, and Derek Gilbert were nonetheless happy about the money they collected ringing "30 hours for $30,000. In the end, more than $37,000 was collected during the time period at their kettle, another marathon session in New Richmond and at three other sites.

The Salvation Army Red Kettle "ring 30 hours for $30,000" was a success and then some. The final total was $37,230.

Jeremy Lilyquist and Derek Gilbert of Anchor Insurance in Hudson rang from 5 a.m. Dec. 20 to 11 a.m. on Dec. 21. They were joined by Linda Lewis who rang in front of Walmart in New Richmond for 30 hours as well. The money they collected was added to the regular donations from four other sites in Hudson and New Richmond.

On Friday Lilyquist was still recovering from the experience of being out in the cold for 30 hours but he said what he will remember most is the people he met.

He said there were several donors who he saw pushing large donations into the kettle. "We tried to talk with everyone who made a donation but these people just seemed to want to get their money in as fast as possible and not be noticed. That was pretty moving."

He will also remember the many children who came with their nickels and dimes. They were giving anyone who made a donation over $5 a stuffed animal which many adults told them to keep and donate. "As a result we could give those toys to the kids who came by. We wanted to show them how much we appreciated their donation and leave an impression with them that they were doing something good."

Gilbert and Lilyquist brought two recliners to their spot outside County Market and offered each of them for a donation of $225. Both found new homes.

Lilyquist said he and Gilbert had a lot of time to talk over the early morning hours about how they will improve on their efforts next year. "We have a lot of ideas and we will be exploring them with the Salvation Army folks." And they will be back next year.

Duana Bremer of the Salvation Army said the marathon ringing started six years ago by Helen McCombie of North Hudson was a wonderful success. It helped bring the total collected this holiday season to within $9,000 of the $100,000 goal. Of the money collected, 89 percent stays in St. Croix County to help residents here.

Bremer said they hope to reach the goal before the campaign end on New Year's Eve. Ringers are still needed in Hudson and New Richmond for Dec. 31. To volunteer for three hours contact her at 715-247-2944.

Meg Heaton

Meg Heaton has been a reporter with the Hudson Star Observer since 1990. She has a bachelor’s degree in anthropology and Native American Studies from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire.

(715) 808-8604