Have a few hours to spare? Salvation Army in dire need of bell ringers

Salvation Army

By WVUA 23 News Reporter A’Leeyah Ponder

While the Salvation Army in Tuscaloosa works around the year helping those in need, their most visible fundraising efforts are planted all around town the month leading up to Christmas: the big red kettles and their watchers, red-aproned volunteers ringing bells and requesting donations.

But this year the organization is finding itself in a tough spot because there aren’t enough volunteers to man those kettles and ring the bells.

“The bell ringing helps us because it allows us to keep our lights on at the Center of Hope (homeless shelter),” said Salvation Army Maj. Johnathan Gainey. “It allows us to feed people every night at our Center of Hope.”

Gainey and his team have made it their mission to the love of Jesus Christ through the Salvation Army and their Center of Hope, a place men, women and children in need can call home when they’re out of options.

“We’re helping people get up off the streets and get away from the burdens of addiction and homelessness and all those kinds of things, and so we can bring Christ to the world,” Gainey said.

The bell ringer shortage is a major obstacle to their goal of collecting $100,000 over the course of the campaign. 

“The red kettle campaign is a fundraiser that raises about 10-15% of our budget,” Gainey said. “Because of the shortage of bell ringers, we’re looking at about 50% of that goal, so we need volunteers.”

Kettles and bell ringers are placed at 14 locations around Tuscaloosa, including in front of Walmart Supercenters or Neighborhood Walmarts, Winn-Dixie and University Mall.

Tuscaloosa Salvation Army Bell Ringer Nicco Key has been volunteering for two years now, and said it’s her love for people and God that brings her back.

“The joy that I see, the laughter, and the people,” she said. “I love communicating and also I love talking about God with people. A God Bless You can make a person’s day.” 

Key said she uses her bell ringing as a way to share her testimony and offer encouragement to anyone willing to stop and chat.

“Sharing God is No. 1, and you’re supposed to always keep him first in your life,” Key said. “And I always tell people to keep their faith because things won’t last, and that’s basically what I live by each day too from my testimony. I had three brain surgeries, and I’m living with a shot in my brain right now as we speak, so I know God is real and I don’t mind telling my testimony if they don’t mind telling theirs.”  

If you’re interested in volunteering, the Salvation Army is looking for anyone who can volunteer any day Monday through Saturday between the hours of 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. Bell ringing shifts can be as short as an hour.

If you’re interested in volunteering, you can contact Jeff McDowell at 205-535-0503.

salvation army
salvation army bell ringer 2
salvation army bell ringer 2

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