Story By: Kade Sybrowsky
Armed with nothing but a tiny bell and a red tin kettle. Salvation Army bell ringers are out in full force again this holiday season. Receiving spare change donations anywhere from grocery stores to malls.
Bell ringers got their start in the United States with Captain Joseph McFee back in 1891. Mcfee wanted to raise money to feed the poor in San Francisco. He put out a red kettle and a sign that said, “Keep the Pot Boiling.” McFee raised enough money to feed the poor that Christmas and the holiday tradition was born.
Drew Jones, Janet Harris and Malcom Wells are bell ringers that will be out ringing this holiday season. Braving the wintery and cold conditions to receive valuable donations for the Salvation Army.
Jones, 43, originally from California, bell rings in front of the Harmons grocery store on thirteenth east near thirty-third south. This will be his third holiday season of bell ringing in Utah.
“I do it because I enjoy being around people,” Jones Said. “I just wanted to help out in some way…it’s not a lot but still its something.”
For the most part Jones enjoys his job. He doesn’t like to be out in the cold but believes that the cause is worth his body being frozen for hours on end.
“Its freaking cold…(but) seeing the best in people even though its just spare change can mean a lot to other people,” said Jones.
One of those people was Janet Harris, in her fourth year as a bell ringer. She currently bell rings in front of a Wal-Mart store in Murray. She has received first hand the benefits of what these donations can do for someone and that is why she bell rings.
“The salvation army helped me out so I just wanted to help them out,” Harris said. “Everyone likes to give back especially this time of year so it’s nice.”
Harris does not plan on being a bell ringer for life but has enjoyed her time doing it. She like Jones is not particularly fond of the cold because her hands get so cold but doesn’t mind to sacrifice for the cause
After ten years of bell ringing Wells, 53, likes to think he is use to the cold by now. He currently bell rings in front of the Smiths Marketplace in Millcreek.
“I have done it for about ten years and every year I say I am not going to do it the next, but I always end up back here,” Wells said.
Wells, unlike the other bell ringers, gets paid for his duties of bell ringing. Although most bell ringers are volunteers there are some that get paid right around minimum wage.
“I got nothing else to do. I thought I might as well make a little more Christmas money for my family,” said wells.
Whether getting paid or just volunteering, Wells, Harris and Jones are all in aggreeance that seeing the holiday spirit and the good in people makes the job worth doing.
“I love seeing the spirit of the season in everyone,” said wells
The Salvation Army is hoping to capture this spirit during the holiday season by receiving donations. To donate simply put spare change in the red kettle donate where bell ringers are located or visit http://www.salvationarmyutah.org/ to fill the online red kettle or to volunteer time.