WBHS and WSLS team up to fill the Salvation Army Red Kettles

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VINTON–Students in the DECA club at William Byrd High School have partnered with newscaster Lindsey Ward of WSLS TV 10 and the Salvation Army of the Roanoke Valley to create the first social media campaign for the Salvation Army Red Kettle drive. The project is known as #IRangtheBells.

According to WBHS students Ali Shail and Ashlyn St. Clair who are helping to head up the project, their purpose is to raise awareness online for the annual drive which raises funds for the majority of the programs the non-profit Salvation Army supports locally. Those include the Turning Point Women’s Shelter, Emergency Family Services, the Red Shield Lodge, Intensive Case Management, the Salvation Army Roanoke Corps Church with Youth and Senior programs, and Disaster Services.

William Byrd DECA students Ashlyn St. Clair (on left),  Ali Shail, and their fellow students are partnering with WSLS TV 10 and the Salvation Army of the Roanoke Valley to raise awareness and collect donations for the annual Red Kettle campaign which benefits many organizations in the Roanoke area.
William Byrd DECA students Ashlyn St. Clair (on left), Ali Shail, and their fellow students are partnering with WSLS TV 10 and the Salvation Army of the Roanoke Valley to raise awareness and collect donations for the annual Red Kettle campaign which benefits many organizations in the Roanoke area.

Roanoke County Schools Community Relations Specialist Chuck Lionberger serves on the board of the Salvation Army. He says that donations are down significantly from last year and that the organization needs support from the community to “provide assistance for those in need in the Roanoke Valley.”

“The Salvation Army provides financial, physical, and spiritual support to the homeless, battered women, children and much more,” said Lionberger.

DECA members at William Byrd rallied 12 other clubs and organizations at WBHS to join them in a friendly competition to raise funds for the online Red Kettle drive. The Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA), the Leo, Beta, Service Learning, Mentors, Yearbook, and Book Club groups have signed up, along with the SCA and the wrestling, cheerleading, swim, and indoor track teams.

The goal is for each team to raise $500. Donations may be made online to the individual WBHS teams at www.onlineredkettle.org/WilliamByrdHS or to WBHS in general on the website. Currently the cheerleaders, the Service Learning students, and DECA are ahead in the amount of funds raised.

Two winning teams will be named—the one which raises the most money online and the one with the most social media activity, including posts, “Likes,” and “Shares.”

Byrd students have already been posting pictures to social media via Twitter at #IRangTheBells. The competition continues until January 15. Channel 10 will be airing promotions for the campaign in the coming days.

This week during half-times at Friday’s home basketball games, students will be filming a video for the campaign. Dozens of tiny Salvation Army bells will be distributed to the student cheering section–the Dog Pound. The students will ring the bells in unison with a Tweet sent out on social media.

Teacher advisor and project coordinator Jessica Catley also plans to use this project as part of her marketing and advertising curriculum.

“This campaign aligns closely with what we do in advertising class,” said Catley.

She invited Margaret Grigsby, digital content manager from WSLS 10, to speak to representatives of each club or organization signed up for the competition. The online social media Red Kettle campaign also serves as a state competition project for the DECA students.

The WBHS/WSLS campaign hopes to highlight the needs so the community will meet and even exceed their customary support. Catley says that while students may not see the direct results of their efforts online, they may influence people who view their campaign to contribute at the Red Kettles at Kroger in Vinton and other locations.