FAIRMONT - For many, the sound of bells greeting customers as they go about their holiday shopping is the quintessential sound of Christmas.
But just weeks after the bell-ringing season began last fall, the local Salvation Army, which organizes the effort as its major fund-raising push, still had 80 percent of its ringing slots waiting for volunteers.
Majors Dale and JoAnn Hixenbaugh were relieved by the last-minute efforts of community members, as they managed to raise 92 percent of the $75,000 goal by the end of the year.
"We have about $6,000 left," Dale Hixenbaugh said. "We got a nice shot in the arm."
The majors were unsure what to expect in terms of year-end donations, as they began their job in Fairmont just six months ago and have not been through a full fund-raising cycle here.
"We would like to thank the public," JoAnn Hixenbaugh said. "It was a blessing to have them calling up and saying, 'Yes, we can ring the bell,' and 'Yes, we have toys for you', and 'Yes, we have food for you.'"
The need at the food shelf has been steady, with increasing requests for help with heating bills.
Dale Hixenbaugh said the organization should have enough resources to get it through March or April, when it usually must have another set of food drives.
Fund-raising efforts are continuing through a mail appeal, and anyone wishing to donate to the Salvation Army can send checks to: 114 E. Blue Earth Ave., Fairmont, MN 56031.