ELYRIA — Salvation Army coordinator Hollie Rice collected donations for the last time Wednesday.
After eight years volunteering for the organization, and another eight as an employee, the 56-year-old Rice is stepping down from her post organizing efforts for those in need.
“Health issues are forcing me to leave,” she said. “But life goes on, and people need to keep donating.”
Following in Rice’s footsteps are Salvation Army Captains Paul and Sherry Pelletier, originally from Massachusetts, but fresh from a Salvation Army assignment in Kenya.
The husband and wife team have spent the last two weeks learning about the community and the relationships Rice has already established.
“Our biggest challenge is coming in and learning about the slight differences here,” said Sherry Pelletier.
Rice recounted her early days at the organization, and how she initially volunteered her time after putting in a full day of work as an administrative assistant at the YWCA in Elyria. After leading the successful campaign for a new Salvation Army building on Broad Street in Elyria, she was offered a position and has been ringing the bells for donations ever since.
“I like helping people in this community,” Rice said. “When the Salvation Army asks for help, people answer.”
Rice said the often hectic Christmas fundraising efforts remain some of her fondest memories.
The feeling that comes with helping more than 900 families every year, she said, is something that’s hard to top.
“I could have never done anything without the support of the community or volunteers,” Rice said. “It’s this community. They’re wonderful.”
The Salvation Army has less than two weeks’ worth of food left in its cupboards and is asking for food or monetary donations. Call (440) 323-2026 to find out how to help.
Contact Stephen Szucs at 336-4016 or online at firstname.lastname@example.org.