Bell ringers have passion for holidays, helping others
ALPENA — You can hear the repetition of the cheerful ringing of bells from hundreds of yards away near many local businesses this holiday season, as the bell ringers for the Salvation Army in Alpena wave their bells back-and-forth while seeking donations.
The Salvation Army’s Red Kettle Campaign is an annual tradition and each year the bell ringers are counted on to often stand in the cold and help raise money used to help fund all of Salvation Army’s programs — from its food pantry and back-to-school programs to helping people in need with groceries and funds for rent, utility bills, and medical prescriptions.
There is a mix of paid employees who man the red kettles and volunteers scattered among businesses in Northeast Michigan.
Salvation Army Major Prezza Morrison poured praise on the men and women who spend hours at a time helping to raise money that is used to help others and the dedication they have for the task.
“They are simply amazing and we wouldn’t be able to do what we do whatsoever without them,” she said. “They are the ones that raise the money we use to serve the people that is for sure.”
Harrison said 14 bell ringers who receive paychecks and additional volunteers who lend a hand most of which have a passion for the holidays and helping others.
This is the first year that Lisa Peltier has worked as a bell ringer. She said she decided to take the job after some soul searching and conversations with God. Peltier said helping others is important to her, because it wasn’t long ago she was in the same shoes as many of them.
“I was praying and asking God what I should do for a job and he told me this is where I’m supposed to be right now,” Peltier said. “I do this because it is also a good way to give back because I was at the point where a lot of these people are and I know how much this helps.”
Peltier said the weather conditions aren’t always ideal, but she bundles up in layers to stay as warm as possible, and uses the holiday spirit she shares with people in and out of the stores to warm her heart.
“We have a very generous community and the people are all very nice,” she said. “They are always smiling and thanking me.”
Jessica Rodak has worked with the Salvation Army for the Red Kettle for three years and knows the importance of it. In the past, she has benefited from the services the money helps provide. She said Christmas is always special and doing something that brightens the season for others makes her feel good.
“I really enjoy doing this and that is what always brings me back,” Rodak said. “I like to spread the joy of Christmas and it helps me to be able to do something nice for my son’s Christmas. The Salvation Army has helped me in the past with his Christmas and I just absolutely love it. It can get cold, but it is all worth it.
Morrison said with about a month to go in the fundraiser, so far, donations are slightly ahead of last year and the money will go to good use to help those in the area. She said people in the area are shining examples of what the holidays are: a season of giving.
“I think there is something inside all of us as Americans that makes us want to help others,” she said. “Not everyone is able to put money into the bucket, but they find other ways to help, like volunteering. We receive a lot of support from the people around Alpena who just want to help others.”
The Red Kettle Campaign runs until Dec. 24.