Plano Star-courier > News
Salvation Army bell ringers hit the streets
Marking the beginning of the holiday season, the Salvation Army bell-ringers have set up camp at more than 60 grocery stores, retail shops and shopping malls in Collin County.
Among those kettle camps is Plano resident John Jolly. He has been volunteering his time to ring the Salvation Army bell during the holiday season for at least the last five years.
“I love bell-ringing,” he said. “It’s very close to my heart, and seeing people having such a great need around the holiday time, bell-ringing is a small way for me to help.”
Seeing that finding volunteers to ring the bell has become increasingly harder over the years, Jolly took measures into his own hands.
“I saw a need for volunteers to ring bells so I decided to do something about it,” Jolly said. “I wanted to find volunteers because frankly, volunteers do a better job than those getting paid because it’s in their hearts. Finding volunteers also helps the Salvation Army save money. Instead of hiring bell ringers, they can focus that money into their services.”
It started out with a group of friends at Christ United Methodist Church and over time grew to include more and more friends and family, he said.
Jolly and his bell-ringing companions rotate shifts to man the red kettle outside the Fry’s Home Electronics store in East Plano.
Bell-ringing reminds Jolly of the growing need of the Salvation Army and other community supporting non-profits during an economic recession.
“Standing in the lobby, you see more and more people out of work and needing food or help with rent,” he said. “About 90 percent of the kettle proceeds go to the local Salvation Army center to use for food or provide assistance to people in need. With so many people seeking help, bell-ringing to raise funds and awareness is the least we can do.”
Through his years ringing, Jolly has also experienced the same difficulty in recruiting more bell-ringers.
“Some of our regulars -- who are senior citizens -- are experiencing health problems, and that’s the case for many other senior citizen volunteers,” Jolly said. “Next year’s focus will be trying to get younger volunteers to come help.”
And for that, the Salvation Army is thankful. The more volunteers, the more funds the Salvation Army can collect to help provide the community with assistance, said Kristin Bowman, spokesperson for the Salvation Army DFW Metroplex command.
“We’re really encouraging the people in the community to sign up and be a bell-ringer for the Salvation Army,” she said. “It would be part of the spirit of giving back to the community. If you can’t financially contribute to the red kettle campaign, you can donate time.”
About 37 kettles are within Plano city limits, but the effect of the donated pocket change reaches throughout the Collin County community.
The Salvation Army hopes to collect $250,000, mostly in change and dollar bills, to benefit the Salvation Army in Plano and the programs and services offered there.
The Red Kettle Christmas Campaign enables the Salvation Army to provide food, toys and clothing to more than six million people during the Christmas season and helps more than 34 million Americans recovering from all kinds of personal disasters nationwide.
The Red Kettle campaign, first started in San Francisco in 1891, has traditionally been the Salvation Army’s most prominent fund-raiser. In 2004, the campaign raised more than $100 million in communities nationwide, with the nickels, dimes, quarters and dollars all remaining in the towns where the money was deposited into the kettles. The funds raised help support many of the 37 million people in poverty who turn to the Army for food and toys at Christmas, utility and homeless assistance, senior and child care, drug abuse treatment and many other social service needs.