CHESTERTOWN — Despite the holiday season coming to a close, the effect of a generous community can still be seen through donations given to the Salvation Army.

This year, more than $5,000 in donations were raised, which Andy Meehan of the Chestertown Rotary Club said makes 2018 a “banner year.”

Meehan and Bob Barrows, a Chestertown Lions Club member, coordinated the bell-ringing volunteers this year. The husband-and-wife team of Paul and Pat McDonald served as the coordinators for the last nine years.

Meehan said both McDonalds are still involved with the local operations of the Salvation Army and the Good Neighbor Fund.

Barrows said the money people put into the red bins is used for a variety of good causes, but the donations all stay near Kent County. He said the money is used by the Samaritan Group especially during the colder months to keep electricity from being shut off and to assist shelters. It also is used by the Kent County Food Pantry to supply vouchers.

Meehan and Barrows said many of the volunteers who braved the cold to ring the bells are longtime volunteers. Barrows himself has been a bell-ringer since 1979.

“Once you do it, it’s amazing,” Barrows said.

He said he talked to one volunteer who is turning 80 this year, but still plans on volunteering again next year if she is able.

In addition to community volunteers, who typically work one- or two-hour shifts of bell ringing, Barrows said the Washington College men’s baseball and women’s softball teams also helped out this year.

He said he is always amazed by the generosity of the community who will donate anything from spare change to $20 or even $50 bills. He said he’s had people donate checks as well.

Redner’s and Acme donated space outside their stores for the bell ringers to stand beginning in early December. There also were bell ringers during the Dickens of a Christmas Festival the second weekend of December.

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