Bell-ringing becoming a family tradition

Published 3:00 am Friday, December 23, 2016

Traditions are usually passed down from one generation to another. Seldom to they skip a generation but such is the tradition shared by Ed Telfair and his grandson Chase Dickens.

In December, three years ago, when Telfair walked into the Pike County Salvation Army Service Center and Thrift Store in Troy to make a delivery, a tradition began.

Kim May, Pike County Salvation Army director, was making out a schedule for bell ringers for the Salvation Army’s Red Kettle fundraising campaign and Telfair was interested.

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“I was told that it’s often difficult to get bell ringers,” Telfair said. “I’d never really thought about it. But I knew the Red Kettle campaign was for a good cause so I said, ‘Y’all put me down.’”

Telfair’s thought was to ask his grandson to ring the bell with him.

“It would be something worthwhile and something we could do together,” Telfair said. “I asked Chase and he thought it sounded ‘cool.’ I asked him where he wanted to ring and he said, Walmart.”

The granddad and grandson duo got set up with bells and a Santa hat and started ringing.

“Chase got involved from the beginning,” Telfair. “He enjoyed watching the people and saying, ‘Merry Christmas.’ He really got into it.”

Chase was seven years old at the time and people were amazed to see such a little fellow raising money for Pike County people in need.

“A lot of people would come over and pinch his cheeks and drop money in the kettle,” Telfair said. “He got more donations than I did.”

The next year, Chase was ready to ring the bell again. But this year, his granddad wasn’t sure he would want to be a bell ringer.

“Chase has turned nine and, with him being older and his friends are older, I thought he might want to pass up ringing the bell,” Telfair said. “But he called me and said, ‘Hey, Pop. When are we going to ring the bell?’

“I think Chase has gotten the message that it is more blessed to give than to receive.”

Telfair and his grandson are dedicated ringers of the Salvation Army bell.

Some people pass them by; others go the other way.

“But what is so heartwarming is that some people, who look like they don’t have money to buy anything once they get in the store, will stop and give,” Telfair.

“Others dig deep in their pockets to give. Some will get in line to donate to the cause. It’s rewarding to see the generosity of people and to hear them say, ‘Merry Christmas’ in such a genuine way.”

And, in such a way that, even a nine-year-old boy can understand that the real blessings in life come from doing something for others.

“You get a tremendous sense of satisfaction from helping a cause that does so much for the people in your community,” Telfair said. “Chase and I have been blessed by ringing the bell for the Salvation Army and encourage others to share in the blessing.”

The Salvation Army’s Red Kettle campaign will continue through Christmas Eve, when bell ringers are especially needed.  To be a bell ringer, call 334-808-1069 or 268-2553 or 6732-4481.