Ringing in the holidays

Published 12:00 am Monday, November 29, 2004

Anyone who walks through the entrance to Wal-Mart on a given weekend this holiday season just might pass a member of the Wilson family. They’ll be hard to miss.

At least one or two of them will be standing behind a red kettle, ringing a bell and trying their best to raise money for the Salvation Army.

The Wilson family-Leith, Tammy, seven-year-old Elizabeth, four-year-old Kristopher, and grandmother Lois-are part of a larger group of volunteers serving as Salvation Army bell rings in Selma this Christmas season.

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“My husband is on the Salvation Army board, and we do this each year as a family project,” said Tammy.

The family began this project together about four years ago. Father and son, mother and daughter, or grandmother and grandchild will spend the next 14 weekends helping the non-profit organization make a brighter Christmas for those in need.

“It’s a lot of fun. You get to talk to people and God Bless them as they donate money,” Tammy said. “Lots of our friends come out to Wal-Mart, so we always try to encourage them to dip into their pockets.”

Tammy added that citizens should remember the Salvation Army helped a lot of people in the aftermath of Hurricane Ivan, so now is the time to return the favor.

The bell ringers at Wal-Mart did really well the day after Thanksgiving, Tammy said, with a lot of people taking time to give during one of the biggest shopping day of the year.

“The kettle was getting heavy,” Tammy said. “I wore a blister on my finger after ringing so much.”

Tammy said she wanted her kids involved helping the Salvation Army in hopes they will continue having “that Thanksgiving spirit of giving” well into their adult years.

“We want to teach our kids that they should help others less fortunate and be thankful for what they have,” Tammy said. “We want them to be good citizens and help the community.”

Leith said in the past, the Salvation Army has had paid and volunteer bell ringers.

“Having paid bell ringers effects what we bring in, so we decided this year to do all volunteer bell ringers,” he said. “Several clubs are helping us out.”

Even with volunteers like the Wilson family, Capt. Don New said the Salvation Army still has plenty of bell ringing spots that need to be filled.

“We really need the community to step up,” he said. “Our goal this year is to raise $20,000, which is very reachable, and all of it goes back to the community.”

From 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. each day, Salvation Army bell ringers are stationed at six locations across Selma.

For those who miss the bell ringers, New said, residents can also help by picking up an angel from the organization’s Angel Trees.

The gifts are due Dec. 15 and will be distributed to needy children on Dec. 20 and 21.

To volunteer as a bell ringer, contact the Salvation Army at 872-1646.