Bell ringing underway in Brookings

Salvation Army's volunteers hard at work during annual Red Kettle campaign


BROOKINGS — “We’re kind of like a poster child for the Salvation Army,” explained Maddi Flanagan, Service Center manager for Brookings County. “We’re pretty unique here in Brookings. We’re not a corps; we’re not an extension unit; we’re a service center. We’re pretty individualized in the big picture of the Salvation Army.”

Flanagan has been on the job for a year.  A Salvation Army office has been in Brookings for about four years.

“We have a lot of wonderful groups in Brookings: groups, organizations, businesses that just want to take time to ring the bells for us,” Flanagan said of this year’s Red Kettle campaign.”… We get a lot of help from the high schoolers: Brookings, Sioux Valley. The whole (Brookings) county reaches out to help us. And the churches, absolutely.”

The bell ringing campaign got underway on Nov. 17. “We just kicked off at Lewis.(Drug) on Friday,” the manager explained. “We have our weeknight ringings Monday through Friday, from 4 to 8 p.m.” Starting on Friday, bell ringers are at three locations here in Brookings: both doors at Walmart and in the entryways at Hy-Vee and at Lewis Drug. Weekend hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Nov. 28 is “A day of giving,” and bell ringers will be manning the Red Kettles from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. And “counter kettles” are out at nine different businesses in Brookings County. The final day for this year’s campaign is Dec. 20.

“We are trying to reach $35,000,” Flanagan explained. She added, “Last year nationwide, we had a tanking amount; we were quite low across the nation with our kettle amounts. We saw it here in Brookings, too. We were on the low end for donations.”

“This year we’re hoping that … we’re transitioning out of that COVID era,” the manager explained. “There’s a lot of shopping done online. But we’re starting to see more faces out and about. We’re hoping to get back up there with those higher dollar amounts.” Last year’s goal was around $27,000. Around $20,000 was raised.

“However, during COVID, we saw an increase of donations, which was wonderful,” Flanagan said. “We saw an increase of donations in 2021. We dropped down in 2022. Now we’re hoping we can build things up again.”

Donations stay here

“100 percent — everything that is donated in a Red Kettle here in Brookings stays in Brookings,” Flanagan said. “Every dollar stays right here and they’re used for the emergency services that we provide: eviction notices; utility disconnect notices; shelter emergencies, getting someone a hotel for a night. If someone’s stranded in Brookings, we can help them get gas, get them ready to go. We have quite a wide range of how this money is spent.”

The monetary aid is given via “vouchers.” “They act as a check,” she explained. “They have Salvation Army (printed) on it. All the vouchers go indirectly to a business.”

In addition to the above, the Share the Warmth program, which is under the Salvation Army umbrella after having been started by a local member of the Brookings community, recently gave away more than 1,100 coats. And donations are still welcome.

“We always accept donations for Share the Warmth, year-round, middle of summer, we’ll take a coat,” Flanagan said. “We’re happy as can be when one comes in. Year-round we’re looking for those winter coats.”

Flanagan is a native of the Yankton area and came north to attend South Dakota State University. She was a psychology major and graduated in 2017. Prior to her job here in Brookings, she was a paraprofessional in the Lake Preston School District.

The manager is the sole paid Salvation Army employee in the Brookings area. The Salvation Army office here is located at 619 Fifth Ave., Suite 4B. Telephone: 605-692-8863. Email: Presently Flanagan is working by appointments only. However, anyone looking to volunteer as a bell ringer can log on to

Contact John Kubal at