Volunteer Corner: 'Tis bell ringing, red bucket season

Local Salvation Army volunteer Grace Hrvatin shares the Christmas spirit.

As the holiday season approaches and the spirit of giving starts to come over you, you might be asking yourself: What can I do that doesn’t take a lot time from my busy schedule, but is a really worthwhile way to help others?

How about signing up for a simple, two-hour shift as a Salvation Army bell ringer?

But, what do I have to do? “Just ring the bell,” says Green Valley Salvation Army volunteer Fem Durham.

Actually, that’s pretty much all there is to it, she affirmed.

Durham has put in a lot of hours over the last eight years as a volunteer for the Salvation Army in a variety of ways. But a bell-ringer shift seems to be a favorite for her and many others because they get to share the holiday spirit and witness the generosity of strangers. It can be a very positive experience, and can leave you feeling pretty good about yourself.

“You know it’s going to a good cause,” she adds. “I often get to hear stories from people about how the Salvation Army has helped them in their lives, and I love to see how parents teach their children the importance of giving by showing them how to put something in.”

You can do just one shift one time, or more. You will be given a red apron and a chair, or a rubber mat if you want to stand, and of course the famous bell and red kettle.

Some bell ringers bring their own festive music. Others dress up in holiday attire or bring candy canes to give away. Some say “Merry Christmas,” some “Happy Holidays,” others “God Bless You.” Shoppers using the seven local stores the Salvation Army partners with drop in change or bills, or they can just scan an amount directly from their phones.

You can be assured that 96 percent of the money collected stays right here. Serving Amado, Arivaca, Sahuarita, and Green Valley, the Salvation Army Center provides utility assistance, holiday meals, clothing, Christmas toys — almost anything you can think of that could help a struggling person or family right here in your own community.

This is the only Salvation Army Service Center in the country that relies entirely on volunteer bell ringers, said Coordinator Esther Corrales. With only three paid staff and more than a thousand volunteers, the Green Valley Center collected nearly $77,000 in the 2018 holiday season.

Salvation Army is the second-largest charity in the country and it believes all people have a right to basic needs. They pride themselves on never giving up on anyone. A total of 25,000 bell ringers raise about $100 million each year, serving nearly 30 million people trapped by poverty, homelessness, addiction, hunger or crisis.

You can stop by the Center near the Catholic Church on La Cañada Drive, or contact Esther, Jose or Yuni at 625-3888 or esthercorrales@usw.salvationarmy.org to fill out the form and get the details. It’s only two hours of giving in a long holiday season we are all blessed to be able to enjoy.

“We appreciate anyone taking the time to do this,” Fem said. “We need more of that in this world.”

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