Keep the Bells Ringing

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Volunteer as a bell ringer with the Salvation Army

(San Bernardino, CA) The “miracle” of Christmas is repeated over and over again through the joy of caring and sharing. The San Bernardino Salvation Army is seeking volunteers to ring bells in San Bernardino, Colton, Grand Terrace, Highland, Rialto and Bloomington starting the day after Thanksgiving and going through Christmas Eve.

The traditional 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 Maj. 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. 18 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 Maj. Ball “For each volunteer bellringer we have, it means more money raised in direct support of our services to those families in need.”

Each Thanksgiving, Christmas and in some cases Easter, Inland Empire Salvation Army Corps combine to serve more than 1,000 people holiday meals. But, these local corps serve almost as many meals on a daily basis to those who are homeless and hungry.  Some Corps also maintain a food pantry for those who most need help with the cost of groceries.

Feeding the hungry is just one of the ways money donated to The Salvation Army helps. Salvation Army Corps also help with lodging for homeless or evicted families; clothing and furniture for burnout victims, evicted and the homeless; prescriptions, assistance with rent/mortgage, utilities and transportation when funds are available.

The Salvation Army Team Emergency Radio Network assists rescue workers and evacuees in disasters such as fires, while the San Bernardino Hospitality House also provides temporary emergency shelter and support in rebuilding their lives to thousands of homeless families.

To volunteer as a bellringer in San Bernardino, Colton, Rialto, Grand Terrace or Highland, call (909) 888-1336. The San Bernardino office is setting up a volunteer schedule to which Maj. Ball and his staff are eager to assist local residents in adding their names

To volunteer as a bellringer in Redlands and other East San Bernardino Valley communities call (909) 792-6868. Volunteer Services Coordinator Capt. Patrick Lyons will provide an application and on approval, will assign volunteers to bell-ringing duties.

To volunteer as a bellringer in San Bernardino County’s High Desert, call (760) 245-5745 and ask for Margot Barhas.

To volunteer as a bellringer in Ontario and other West San Bernardino Valley communities, call Envoy Abel Tamez at (909) 509-2503 or Envoy Naomi Tamez at (909) 509-2741.

To learn more about volunteering as a bellringer in Riverside, Moreno Valley, Corona, Norco and other West Riverside County communities call the Riverside Corps Office at (951) 784-4490 ext. 102.

To learn more about volunteering as a bellringer in Hemet, Beaumont, San Jacinto, Perris, Murietta, Menifee, Temecula and other central and southern Riverside County communities, call the Hemet Corps Office at (951) 791-9497.

To learn more about volunteering as a bellringer in Palm Desert, Palm Springs, Indio, Indian Wells, Rancho Mirage, Cathedral City, Banning and other desert communities, call the Palm Desert Corps Office at (760) 324-2275.

In addition, one may donate to The Salvation Army online, through the website. Donors may specify to which branch of The Salvation Army the money should be sent.

How the Bell Ringer campaign began:

Capt. Joseph McFee, serving with the San Francisco Salvation Army Corps back in 1891, wanted to serve Christmas dinner to the poor in his neighborhood. But he didn’t have money to do so.

Mc Fee remembered as a sailor in Liverpool, England, seeing 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.

He 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 20th Century was The Salvation Army of San Bernardino, which formed in 1887.

About the Salvations 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 Radio Network assists rescue workers and evacuees in such disasters as fires.

The San Bernardino Corps serves: Bloomington, Colton, Grand Terrace, Highland, Rialto and San Bernardino.

The Salvation Army is an evangelical part of the Universal Christian church and also offers evangelical programs for boys, girls and adults. 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. Donations may always be made online at www.salvationarmyusa.org or by calling 1-(800)-SAL-ARMY.

For local help, please call (909) 888-1336.

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