As area customers arrived to pick up items at the Fareway and Hy-Vee grocery stores last Saturday, their ears picked up the sound of bells being rung by Salvation Army volunteers outside the supermarkets' doors.
However, it wasn't Santa Claus who was asking people to donate their resources this holiday season.
Instead, members of the public were greeted by smiles from members of the Storm Lake High School student council.
The 38 members of the SLHS organization are helping to ring bells for the nationally-known charity this Christmas, and the endeavor highlights three community service ventures the students are participating in this month.
In addition to the Salvation Army project, the high schoolers are also visiting patients at the two manors in town and are collecting pennies to help less fortunate families in the high school.
Pat Armstrong, the SLHS student council advisor, said she was happy to see the students donating their December Saturdays to a worthy cause.
"We thought this was one way to give back to the community and have the kids make that connection to the community," Armstrong said. "It's been a fun thing for the kids to do, and they've been really excited about doing this."
Armstrong learned a few weeks ago that the Salvation Army could not find any volunteers to ring bells in the Storm Lake area this Christmas, and immediately thought the bellringing would be a good community service project for the pupils in the student council to participate in.
After contacting employees at the Security Trust & Savings Bank about her interest in helping with the Salvation Army project, Armstrong notified the students about the activity, and they started ringing the bells last Saturday in front of the two area grocery stores.
The students will ring the bells from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on the next two Saturdays, and Armstrong said they were very enthusiastic about the project.
"The kids were really anxious to help," Armstrong said. "They really were. Everybody signed up for two-hour shifts, and it's been neat to see their high interest in this. They're a good group of kids, and it's great to see how they're giving up their time to help others right now."
Students participating in the project echoed Armstrong's sentiments.
"This job has to be done by somebody, so we decided to volunteer to do it," sophomore Nick Sorbe, who manned the 10 a.m. shift at Fareway, said. "It's been pretty fun so far, since we're meeting people and helping people out."
"I think it's a lot better to do something like this in person," sophomore Astar Naphalay, who teamed with Sorbe at Fareway, said. "It feels a lot better to do it this way and be out in the community than some way that isn't as personal."
Seniors Callie Schons and Katie Johnson, who greeted people outside Hy-Vee from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. on Saturday, were also enthusiastic about the project.
"We've had a lot of people donate money already, so it's been going pretty well," Johnson said. "It's been really nice to see that."
"We've been having a good time," Schons said. "It's been a good thing for us to do, and it's a good feeling knowing that we're helping people."