Ring bell for good

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, November 28, 2007


And they ring.

They are at the doors of malls, retail outlets and megastores. Young, old, rich, poor &045; Salvation Army bell-ringers from many walks of life stand at kettles across the country to raise money for those in need.

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Some are employed by the Salvation Army. Others are volunteers. In the Black Belt region, the Salvation Army has eight employed bell-ringers and two dozen volunteers.

“We have a variety of local volunteers, in addition to civic clubs in the community,” Salvation Army Captain Kelley New said.

Mark Ingram of Selma will be volunteering with UPS as a bell-ringer in front of Wal-Mart Saturday. It will be his first time to volunteer as a bell-ringer.

Ingram said in making deliveries all over Selma, he sees the good, the bad, and the ugly-people who are in need and people who are able and willing to give.

Volunteers typically ring from two to four hours on a given day. Clubs may volunteer for an entire day with individuals taking turns, New said.

Jeff Cothran, director for the United Way in Selma, helps out with the campaign through the Kiwanis Club.

“If we can volunteer to help make Selma a better place, then that’s what we’re going to do,” Cothran said. “As a civic club, we want to do whatever helps the community, and for the holidays, this is one way to do it.”

The first year the Salvation Army held a Kettle Campaign was in 1891 in San Francisco. The campaign became national in 1897. In Selma, the first kettle campaign was likely in the 1920s, New said.

As a reaction to crime in the area, New said many people hesitate to volunteer as a bell-ringer. “People are concerned with ringing a bell beside a kettle full of money,” New said.

The money raised funds year-round social service projects by the Salvation Army. These include gas, rent, and electricity

assistance; grocery vouchers; assistance for fire victims; summer camps for children, and local nursing home facilities.

Late Tuesday morning, Wal-Mart held its “Bells Ringing Across America” event to help raise money for the Salvation Army’s annual Red Kettle Campaign.

Nationally, the event draws local celebrities, personalities and officials to Wal-Mart storefronts to ring the bells.

Here in Selma, Wal-Mart managers rang the bells for the event.