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      Bell ringers in Genesee Co. help close Salvation Army shortage

      "Good afternoon, how are you doing?" Salvation Army bell ringer Shaun Kolar greeted customers coming out of the V G TMs in Burton. He braved the cold Wednesday, ringing hard for the money.

      I pretty much know everyone who comes and goes, so they're pretty generous here, Kolar said. It TMs his fourth year with the Salvation Army of Genesee County, but the first season he TMs been out after Christmas. That TMs because this year, the organization is grappling with a $30,000 funding gap during its Red Kettle Campaign, which usually ends Christmas Eve. Captain Jon Augenstein says it TMs not because people aren TMt giving.

      For the 8 years that I TMve been here, folks in Genesee County have given more, he said.

      In fact, Genesee County residents helped raise $810,000 - $50,000 of that just this past weekend. But the need keeps growing, and that's not likely to change anytime soon.

      It's going to require that folks be willing to step up, either through the kettles, this week, or by mailing in donations, Augenstein said. He has faith the community will pull through and help the charity meet funding goals and keep services.

      "Flint gets kind of portrayed all the time as this terrible place, and there's all this violence and people preying on each other, but when you look at what is done when folks want to raise some money, whether it's Salvation Army, the food bank and other groups, people just open up their hearts."

      And none of that would be possible without ringers like Shaun, who said, It TMs my way of giving back to the community."

      Bell ringers will be in front of V G TMs and Kroger stores in Genesee County until the end of this week. Donations can also be mailed to or dropped off at the downtown Flint location, at 211 W. Kearsley Street.