Army rings in the holidays

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, November 20, 2001

Features Editor

A bell is rung to mark the periods of a nautical watch.

On land, bells are rung to mark periods of significance – school bells, church bells, wedding bells and bells that toll the passing of life.

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But, at this time of year, we welcome the ringing of the bells of Christmas and none are as familiar as the happy jingling of the red bells of the Salvation Army.

"When you hear the Salvation Army bells, you know the holiday season has begun," said David Carpenter, volunteer bell ringer for the Pike County Salvation Army Service Center.

Carpenter was the first bell ringer for the year 2001 and he held that privileged spot by design.

"I’m no annual leave this week and start the week off ringing the bell for the Salvation Army Red Kettle Campaign and end it ringing the bell.

Carpenter is a member of the Salvation Army board of directors and a longtime volunteer with the Salvation Army.

"To me, the Salvation Army is the most worthwhile organization that helps the needy," he said. "They help in so many different ways and the money donated here stays here in Pike County to help people right here at home."

This past year, the local Salvation Army has provided food boxes to 1,200 families, served 1,500 nursing home patients, provided prescriptions for 500 patients and financial assistance with utilities and rent to 800 people and assisted 55 families that were victims of burnouts.

"That’s not all the Salvation Army has done," Carpenter said. "It is just some of the contributions the Salvation Army makes to give those in a need a brighter future as well as a brighter Christmas."

The motto of the Salvation Army is "Together We Can Make a Change."

"And, we do just that," said Cindy Duke, director of the Pike County Salvation Army Service Center. "What we are able to do because of the generosity of the people of Pike County and the support of the United Way and several area churches does make a difference in the lives of so many of our neighbors. The legacy of caring that was started by William Boothe more than 100 years ago is continuing today and it means as much to those who give of their time as it does to those who receive the assistance they need in times of hardships and emergencies."

Carpenter agreed that volunteering as a bell ringer for the Red Kettle Campaign makes him feel good.

"Anytime you do something for someone else, you gain something for yourself," he said. "I’ll enjoy ringing the bell and I guess I really got involved in volunteer work when I bagged groceries for the Pike County Christmas Program. Now, I am a dedicated volunteer for the Salvation Army."

Carpenter laughingly said he doesn’t feel like a beggar on a street corner when he rings the bell.

"It’s not begging," he said. "It’s an opportunity for people to help those less fortunate. There is no stereotype that can be applied to those who support the Red Kettle Campaign. They come from all walks of life and they a joyful givers. I’ve seen people who probably have received assistance from the Salvation Army reach in their pockets to give."

Carpenter said he has seen college students go out of their way to give. He has seen little children lead their parents to the kettle. He has seen people drop a donation in the buck when they go in the store and another one in when they come out."

"And, I’ve seen people turn their heads as if they don’t see us," he said. "We can’t expect everyone to give, but those who care about their fellow man answer the bell."

The Salvation Army was founded by William Boothe as a place "sinners" who were not welcomed in many churches to go to worship.

"Even the worst people have souls and Boothe thought they needed a place to go where they could hear about God and about salvation," Duke said. "The Salvation Army has grown over the years and because of its many services, life is made better for millions of people every year."

Duke said the response to the call for volunteer bell ringers has been good, but there are still opportunities to ring the red bell.

Any churches, organizations or individuals who would like to volunteer and hour or a day are encouraged to call Cindy Duke as 807-0200.

Hours for the Red Kettle Campaign are 9 a.m. until 6 p.m. Monday through Friday; 9 a.m. until the giving stops on Saturday and from 1 until 5 p.m Sunday at Wal-Mart.

The kettle will also be a Food World, the dates are to be announced.