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Volunteer completes 24-hour bell ringing shift

ONALSAKA, Wis. -- - The Salvation Army's red kettle drive is pulled off every year through the hard work of dedicated volunteers.   

And while the shifts usually last two hours, one volunteer is wrapping up a much longer stint.

WKBT first introduced viewers to Jason Mickelson last night when he was just a few hours into his 24-hour bell ringing shift.

He started at 4 p.m. on Wednesday with a cause.

"The need is so great in our community," said Mickelson.

But he had a strategy to make it through his 24-hour shift.

"Drink a lot of caffeine and just have a cheery attitude," said Mickelson.

Now, a day later, Salvation Army volunteer Jason Mickelson is ringing perhaps a little slower but with just as much heart.


"Everybody's been really behind me in this. I'm thankful. So thankful," said Mickelson.

He said the hardest part was early in the morning when there were few customers out shopping.

"It was hard towards 1 a.m., 2 a.m., kind of the downtime in the grocery store, but you know, when you see people come in and fill this kettle up that makes it all worth it," said Mickelson.

He had already filled three buckets by 1 p.m. on Thursday, helping him toward his $1,200 goal.

"So hopefully we made the goal. Hopefully more. I'm optimistic," said Mickelson.

"He's doing well today, so I hope he gets his goal," said Festival Foods cashier Ronie Brauer.

While it's a challenge not everyone would take on, it's an effort everyone can get behind.

"He's a little crazy if you ask me. No, that's awesome," said Brauer.

"I'm so glad he has the stamina to stay up that long. It's not for me, but I'm glad he's here," said Suzanne Shulz, a customer who donated to Mickelson's kettle.

"That's more than I could imagine. What a gift. We need more more Jasons," said Shulz.

"It has just been going wonderful. People in the La Crosse community have just been great," said Mickelson.

Jason is happy to do what he can to help others.

"I know what that's like, to face struggles in life and adversity. This is my way of saying I know where you're coming from, and I want to help," said Mickelson.

But making it a yearly tradition is a decision he'll have to sleep on.

"Let me think about it for a couple weeks first and get some sleep," said Mickelson.

Mickelson is a regular volunteer at the Salvation Army.

He said during his bell ringing shift, Kwik Trip brought him coffee and volunteers at the Salvation Army brought him food to help him make it the full 24 hours.

Anyone who would like to donate to the Salvation Army, can drop a donation in the red kettles until Dec. 24.

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