Raising charity in the holiday season

Published 7:56 pm Saturday, November 25, 2023

It was a cold and windy Black Friday morning, but it wasn’t enough to stop Austin’s Timothy Larson from his usual holiday routine of ringing the bell for charity in front of Walmart.

Larson, who has been a Salvation Army bell ringer for 15 years, is one of the many volunteers who takes time out of his day to help those in need.

“It’s not very hard and I enjoy doing it,” Larson said. “I get to see different people and I get to help keep spirits up. I’m always able to fit it into my schedule, even though I work 10-hour shifts at my job.”

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The Salvation Army is looking for more people like Larson to take time out of their days and ring the bell over the next month as the need for volunteers is equal to the need for donations.

“We’re getting some volunteers, but we still have hundreds of hours open. We’re seeing an increase of 25% of people looking for seasonal help and when people ring bells that helps us cover our income to give people food,” Major Jeff Strickler of the Salvation Army said. “It is a fun way to begin to experience Christmas. It’s a season of giving and when we go out in public, it makes us feel good. There is also the aspect of parents bringing their children with them and they can teach them about giving. There are a lot of great things that come from this activity.”

Strickler said that all of the money that goes to the bell ringers stays in the community. Those funds can help locals with their food, their utilities and in some cases, it keeps a roof over someone’s head.

“We really want to help people. A lot of times when people come to the Salvation Army, we’re one of their lost stops for aid. For whatever reason, if they’ve fallen behind on bills, we want to be able to keep them,” Strickler said. “We appreciate all of the stores that let us ring bells and it’s neat to see people helping their neighbors at this wonderful time of the year.”

This year, there is an option to submit a payment at the bells with your card, instead of cash, which makes it even more convenient to offer a donation.