Salvation Army Santas
As need for grows, bell ringers work harder
Ring! Ring! Ring! "Merry Christmas and God bless you!" yell the jolly bell ringers of the Salvation Amy. Dressed like Santa, they are positioned in front of a Wal-Mart Superstore in the northern suburbs of Atlanta, Georgia. Bell ringers Roger Green and Eric Lawrence are greeting shoppers on a chilly and damp Saturday afternoon, seeking donations for the nation's second largest charity organization.
Green and Lawrence are two of thousands of Salvation Army Santas in the United States now hard at work collecting donations this holiday season. Their task this year is harder than ever. Because the economic downturn is affecting operations, the local Salvation Army must raise $200,000 more than last year. And that's just for the Atlanta area.
"Many volunteers and many hands make a big difference in the world," Lawrence told this Kid Reporter. Lawrence is a volunteer weekend bell ringer who works as an architect during the week. "We want to make sure everyone feels safe and enjoys their life."
The red kettle tradition began in the late 1800s with a single pot on a pier in Liverpool, England. Now an international organization, the Salvation Army red kettles can be seen in Korea, Japan, Chile, and Europe as well as the U.S.
"I always wanted to be a bell ringer for the Salvation Army because I believed in its 11 core values," said Green, another weekend volunteer. During the week, Green is a financial adviser. "Mother Theresa once said, ‘You can never be depressed when you know that you are helping others with greater needs than your own.'"
Of all the money donated to the Salvation, 83 per cent goes toward helping the needy. Besides helping everyday people who need food and shelter or addiction services, it also helps people caught in natural disasters.
According to Atlanta Area Commander Major James Seiler, many people who used to be donors when the economy was booming are now asking for assistance because they have lost their jobs or homes.
"Many people have told me their stories of how the Salvation Army has greatly affected their lives," Major Seiler said. "I remember one woman who was living in her car when the Salvation Army took her in, and within three weeks of living in our shelters, she had gotten a job. Now she has a family and home of her own and is doing pretty well."
Bell ringers are working harder than ever this year to meet the increased need for the Salvation Army's services. They set up their red kettles on tripods in front of stores around the area, clanging their hand bells to collect small donations from individual shoppers. With the Salvation Army, every dime counts!
To find out how more about the Salvation Army and its work, check out its website.
Kids and the Economy
Kid Reporters take a look at the economy and how it is affecting kids and their communities during this holiday season in the Kids and the Economy Special Report.
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