LA CROSSE, Wis. - The holiday season just wouldn't be the same without an old tradition that rings in a new year of giving back.
Over 100 students and faculty from Viterbo University were at 16 different locations in La Crosse and Onalaska Saturday ringing bells to raise money for the Salvation Army.
Bell ringing is the oldest annual charitable fundraiser of its kind in the U.S. and each year it continues to help those in need in the La Crosse community.
"We've had people come up to us and thank us so much for everything that we've been doing and we just say thank you because you're doing it, you're giving the money but we're just here to raise awareness," said Shaye Evers, a student at Viterbo.
They say it's a simple way to help fix a not-so-simple problem.
"To help people in need especially as we enter this cold season you know people that don't have proper shelter or clothing to stay warm, it's just a great opportunity to kind of like serve our community," said Katherine Ross, a student at Viterbo.
Viterbo representatives say it's the least they can do for an organization that's always helping, no matter the season.
"I hope that they hear it loud and clear that their community supports them, that we are really grateful for all the work that they do, they operate a soup kitchen seven days a week, three meals a day, they have shelter for people who are homeless and who need places to be warm, and they do so many other things for our community so this is just our way of saying thank you for what you do," said Kirsten Gabriel, Undergrad Research and Service Learning director at Viterbo.
Although homelessness in La Crosse is a big concern, Viterbo students say each coin or dollar that is dropped in the red kettle, makes a lasting impact in the community.
"Any small amount of money, or anything, that anyone can give, is always appreciated and it doesn't have to be huge, it can be the smallest of things," Evers said.
It was Viterbo's first year participating in Salvation Army's bell-ringing.
The Salvation Army hopes to raise $1 million this year.
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