WAUSAU (WAOW) -- You can tell the holiday season is getting close when the sound of the Salvation Army bells fill the air. The group says it needs help from the community now as much as ever.
A familiar sound marks the beginning of the Salvation Army's red kettle campaign. Wayne Madden mans his bucket at the new Walgreens on 17th Avenue in Wausau. He asked in advance to secure his spot as the very first bell ringer.
"I'm glad to be the first. Somebody's got to," said Madden. "And it might be a good location. I'm hoping it is."
The first weekend of November marks the beginning of the season, one where people of all ages can pitch in.
"People come in, kids put their little pennies in, their nickels and dimes," said Madden. "It all adds up and it's really great."
The Marathon County Salvation Army set a goal -- $165,000 in donations for this holiday season. It's up from last year's attempt of $160,000, which the group reached after extending the campaign an extra week.
"We know it's going to be a long eight and a half weeks ahead of us," said Captain Brian Goodwill, with the Salvation Army. "But we're going to get through up to Christmas Eve and we'll hope that by then we'll have hit that goal."
Even though your nickels and dimes may not seem like much, every penny counts.
"But still just a pocketful of change can make a huge difference," said Goodwill.
Last year, a quarter of the kettle's earnings came from coins.
"I know times are tough, so I don't expect a whole lot from people like I used to," said Madden. "But if everybody just pitches in a little change every now and then, a dollar here, a dollar there, it'll add up."
Volunteers said even if you can't afford to part with your change, there are still opportunities to make a difference.
"Everybody should be able to help and do something," said Madden. "I can't donate money but I can put my time in. I just hope everyone has a good Christmas this year, everybody has plenty of food, little kids get what they asked for and some warm clothes, that's all we can ask for. If we can get that for everybody, everybody'll be alright."