Every holiday season, the ringing of the Salvation Army bell has melted the hearts of shoppers. The peal of the bell rips people from their holiday lists and beckons them to donate to those less fortunate.
Once again in Payson, bell ringers will be out starting the day after Thanksgiving in the hopes of coaxing out at least $23,000, the amount raised last year.
Bell ringer organizer Ray Kinsman said he has 437 volunteer slots to fill for Bashas’, Walmart, Walgreens and Safeway, where bell ringers will be posted through Christmas.
Last year, 250 bell ringers brought in $23,000, a slight decrease from 2008, when a record $26,000 was collected.
“I appreciate everyone who rings, even if it is only one time,” Kinsman said.
While the sound of tinkling bells has not officially started, Kinsman kicked off this year’s festivities with a potluck dinner for past and future volunteers Nov. 16 at the Payson First Church of the Nazarene.
Kinsman, donning a white tux, sang his heart out in a series of classic Broadway tunes during the dinner.
Kinsman originally planned to sing several of the songs to his wife Teresa, but she passed just a few months ago after a battle with cancer. Determined to carry on, Kinsman employed the help of an audience member to dance with for a few of the songs.
Kinsman said he holds the potluck every year to show his appreciation and this year would be no different, even though he is nursing his heart and a sore throat.
Jenny Scott, who works with Kinsman on the program, said Kinsman is a true giver. Not only does Kinsman volunteer a lot of time to organize the bell ringers, he also picks up expired food from local grocery stores and delivers it to food banks every week, throughout the year.
Kinsman explained why he volunteers by quoting the poem, “Why be a volunteer?”
“It’s not for the money, it’s not for fame and it’s not for any personal gain. It’s just for love of fellow man, it’s just to lend a helping hand. It’s just to give a little of one’s self, that’s something you can’t buy with wealth. It’s not for the medal worn with pride, it’s for that feeling deep inside. It’s that reward down in your heart. It’s the feeling that you’ve been a part of helping others far and near, that makes you a volunteer.”
To help Kinsman help others, give him a call at (928) 474-6577.
So far this year, the local chapter of the Salvation Army has handed out $24,000 to needy families and individuals in Rim Country, a sign the money is in desperate need, Kinsman said.
Money goes toward providing food, clothing and other services for the poor.