BLACKFOOT, Idaho (KIFI/KIDK) - The Salvation Army is hitting the pavement this week to collect donations for its annual Red Kettle fundraiser.
Paul Bingham of Blackfoot is a UPS driver, but even during his busiest time of year, he's still looking for ways to give back to the community.
A few years ago, he was watching a Hallmark movie with his family and got an idea.
The movie was about a man who gets himself into trouble, so the court orders him to ring bells for the Salvation Army.
"Eventually, it became a very wonderful experience for him," Bingham said. "After the movie was over, I said to my wife, 'I betcha that's something I can do."
And he did. The next day, he saw an ad in the paper looking for volunteers to ring bells.
On his first day volunteering, he had an interesting experience.
"Nobody came to relieve me, but it was a wonderful experience, so I stayed a little longer and still nobody came," Bingham said.
The next time he volunteered, still nobody showed up to take over for him. And then a third time--still nobody came.
He realized the Salvation Army was short on volunteers, so he went door to door to find more volunteers.
Now, he helps recruit bell ringers every year.
"I still go out and ring the bells every year with my family, it's a wonderful opportunity, we go several times," Bingham said.
Last year, the Blackfoot kettle campaign raised more than $18,000. Much more than the $3,000 raised during Bingham's first year volunteering.
Ninety percent of the money raised stays in the community, according to the Salvation Army.
"For us in Idaho Falls, we have our food pantry, so we'll use some of it to buy food, some of it will go to help pay the lights so the lights go on, but we also help with rent, utilities. We help people with laundry, we help them with hygiene products," said Major Orpha Moody, who has been with the Salvation Army for more than 30 years.
For the first time, donations can be made digitally. Each kettle will have a QR code for Apple and Google payment methods.
"They can just take their phone and put it up there and it'll scan, and that (donation) will come directly back to us," Moody said.
While the kettle campaign officially roles out on Black Friday, the Salvation Army is still looking for volunteers, like Bingham.