Paige's Story

Jan 19, 2024 | by Rebecca Turnbull

It all started more than twelve years ago in 2011, when Paige McCay worked at Ukrop’s Homestyle Foods and she received an interoffice email to see if any staff were interested in volunteering at The Salvation Army Angel Tree distribution center. Paige thought “why not?” She volunteered, thoroughly loved the experience and made a mental note to sign up again next year.

2012 rolled around with a different ask for Angel Tree, and this time it was to tape ribbons on the backs of all the Angel tags so they could be hung on the tree for donor adoptions. When Paige showed up to help, the group had already completed the task; however, a volunteer list is always overflowing with options. She was approached to see if she wanted to count kettles for the Red Kettle Campaign – The Salvation Army’s largest annual fundraiser.

For background, kettles are counted daily (except Sundays) over the six-week campaign. Focus is the name of the kettle counting game. It is an important, and sometimes intense undertaking, to ensure that the kettles are counted with utmost accuracy.

Paige started by coming in on Saturdays, and then worked in a few weekday mornings before heading into work. She was very familiar with the task since she used to count money at her parents’ auto part store. This was natural. She was a natural. “There’s something oddly satisfying in hearing change being counted, dollar bills being uncrumpled and knowing you’re helping The Salvation Army reach their goal so they can fund their programs year-round. One missed decimal or comma askew can throw everything off,” said Paige. “What keeps me coming back? Ms. June. I love working with Ms. June. Counting money isn’t glamorous work but it’s important work. We are moving mountains together.”

Over the next few years, Paige dutifully came to count each kettle season and even roped in her husband and son to help. The family that counts together, stays together. Then in 2017, Paige’s personal and work circumstances changed. Paige used this as an opportunity to channel her seasonal passion into a full-time volunteer kettle counter and she hasn’t looked back.

Armed with her father’s printing calculator – a nod to the journey that started at her parents’ store to Ukrop’s to The Salvation Army Area Command – she shows up without fail every day during kettle season and hasn’t missed a season since 2012. Doing The Most Good, one accounting entry at a time.

Volunteer for a day. Become a volunteer for life.

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