Keep The Bells Ringing This Holiday Season(SAN BERNARDINO, Calif.) The “miracle” of Christmas is repeated over and over again through the joy of caring and sharing. The San Bernardino Salvation Army (www.salvationarmyusa.org) is seeking volunteers to ring bells in Bloomington, Colton, Grand Terrace, Highland, Rialto, and San Bernardino.
The nationally recognized shiny red kettle is an integral part of the Christmas scene, with millions of dollars donated each year to aid needy families, seniors, and the homeless, in keeping with the spirit of the season.
“This is a wonderful way to help disadvantaged people in our community, simply by volunteering as bell ringers,” said Major Stephen Ball, commander of The Salvation Army of San Bernardino. “We’re looking for individuals, families and groups to spend a day at one of our more than 30 locations in the San Bernardino area.”
The Salvation Army began ringing its bells this year on Friday, Nov. 16th and continues from 10 a.m. through 6 p.m., Monday through Saturday until Christmas Eve.
Anyone who would like to donate a few hours of his or her time can volunteer. However, a parent or guardian must accompany individuals under the age of 16. Most volunteers ring two hours at a time, but groups are asked to provide ringers who can work in shifts for an entire day.
“The more people who volunteer, the fewer people the agency must hire,” said Major Ball “For each volunteer bell ringer we have, it means more money raised in direct support of our services to those families in need.”
This year, the Sierra del Mar Divisional Headquarters of the Salvation Army has already helped its San Bernardino chapter with a “bell-ringing marathon.” Major Butch Soriano, the divisional finance secretary, came to the Colton Wal-Mart on Tuesday, Dec. 3. From 9 a.m. that day until 6 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 7, he rang the bell for 105 hours straight, raising a total of $2,696.42 for the San Bernardino Corps.
The Salvation Army was holding a competition amongst its officers and members to see who could ring the bell the longest. Major Soriano ended his service in a three-way tie for first place, along with another Salvation Army officer in Minnesota and a member in Texas.
Major Soriano not only braved the cooler temperatures and on the final day, rain to serve his division. He also began his service by driving more than 100 miles from his office in San Diego to the San Bernardino Corps headquarters.
The divisional officer said he did it to bring attention to a Salvation Army location that’s doing great things that may not be as highly noticed as what corps in larger cities do.
“There tends to be a lot of focus on the metropolitan areas like San Diego and Los Angeles,” Major Soriano said. “But I know San Bernardino does a lot of great things, so I wanted to bring the public awareness of them.”
Where does the money raised by Major Soriano and the hundreds of others ringing bells in San Bernardino go? For Christmas, the Salvation Army creates holiday food baskets for more than 600 local families. On Christmas Day, The Salvation Army of San Bernardino hosts a Christmas Dinner that historically provides a beautiful meal to 300 people. Donations raised by bell ringers help make this possible.
“The San Bernardino Corps also needs food every day for those at its Hospitality House transitional shelter,” said Major Ball. Up to 75 family members stay in its transitional and emergency family shelters.
The Salvation Army also needs food daily for up to 200 people who receive a free dinner served six nights a week. Approximately 40,000 meals are served annually from the Army’s kitchen located at 746 W. 5th Street in San Bernardino.
Feeding the hungry is just one of the ways money donated to The Salvation Army helps. The Salvation Army also helps provide emergency services including food; lodging for homeless or displaced families; clothing and furniture; assistance with rent or mortgage and transportation when funds are available. The Salvation Army Team Emergency Radio Network (SATERN) assists rescue workers and evacuees in such disasters as fires.
To volunteer as a bell ringer in Bloomington, Colton, Grand Terrace, Highland, Rialto, and San Bernardino, call The Salvation Army at (909) 888-1336.
In addition, one may donate to The Salvation Army online, through the website www.salvationarmyusa.org. Donors may specify to which branch of The Salvation Army the money should be sent.
How the Bell Ringer campaign began:
Captain Joseph McFee, serving with the San Francisco Salvation Army Corps in 1891, wanted to serve Christmas dinner to the poor in his neighborhood. But he didn’t have money to do so.
As a sailor in Liverpool, England, Captain Mcfee saw people on the docks throw money into a large kettle called “Simpson’s Pot” to help the poor. He decided this might work in California too.
Captain Mcfee set up a kettle at the Oakland Ferry Landing, which operated a ferry that was, in those days, the only way across San Francisco Bay. He put a sign on the kettle saying, “Keep the Pot Boiling” and raised enough money to serve the Christmas dinner.
His idea spread quickly, and by 1897 Salvation Army Corps nationwide were collecting money in kettles to serve the needy in their communities. Among the Salvation Army Corps collecting money this way before the turn of the Twentieth Century was The Salvation Army of San Bernardino, which formed in 1887.
About the Salvation Army San Bernardino Corps
The Salvation Army may be able to provide emergency services including food; lodging for homeless or displaced families; clothing and furniture; assistance with rent or mortgage and transportation when funds are available. The Salvation Army Team Emergency Radio Network (SATERN) assists rescue workers and evacuees in such disasters as fires.
The Salvation Army is an evangelical part of the Universal Christian Church, and also offers holistic programs for individuals of all. One of the largest charitable and international service organizations in the world, The Salvation Army has been in existence since 1865 and in San Bernardino since 1887, supporting those in need without discrimination. The San Bernardino Corps of The Salvation Army serves Bloomington, Colton, Grand Terrace, Highland, Rialto, and San Bernardino. Donations may always be made online at www.salvationarmyusa.org or by calling 1-(800)-SAL-ARMY. Our local number is (909) 888-1336.
For more info, check www.abovegroundfun.com.
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