‘Tis the sea­son for bell ringin’

Sal­va­tion Army bell ringer vol­un­teers spread good­will for com­mu­nity

Porterville Recorder - - FRONT PAGE - BY JUAN AVILA [email protected]­villere­corder.com

For many, the fa­mil­iar bright red ket­tles lo­cated in front of es­tab­lish­ments around Porter­ville sig­nal the start of the hol­i­day sea­son, but those iconic Sal­va­tion Army ket­tles are about much more than Christ­mas.

Bell ringers out­side of Wal­mart and Town and Coun­try Mar­ket filled the day Fri­day with the Christ­mas spirit as they col­lected money that is needed year-round to help with food, util­ity and hous­ing emer­gency as­sis­tance, food pantries, hunger pro­grams, youth pro­gram­ming and sum­mer camp, dis­as­ter as­sis­tance and case man­age­ment/so­cial ser­vices.

The ringers started ring­ing the bells Nov. 23 and will go through Dec. 22 ev­ery Fri­day and Satur­day from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. They will only have three week­ends to ring the bell. Bell ringers in Porter­ville can be lo­cated at Wal­mart and Town and Coun­try Mar­ket.

Glo­ria Acosta, a lo­cal vol­un­teer, was ring­ing the bell from 10 a.m. to noon out­side of Wal­mart.

“I love my com­mu­nity, I re­ally do love Porter­ville,” em­pha­sized Acosta. “I’ve been do­ing these for prob­a­bly about five years.”

Acosta said she likes vol­un­teer­ing and help­ing the Sal­va­tion Army, es­pe­cially be­cause the money they raise stays here in for com­mu­nity.

“I love help­ing peo­ple, es­pe­cially dur­ing this time of the year,” said Acosta, tears welling in her eyes. “There are home­less peo­ple, and some of them don’t have food or clothes and you just don’t know what to do.”

Acosta was born and raised in Porter­ville, and she loves to in­ter­act with the chil­dren while vol­un­teer­ing.

“The chil­dren are great. They put the money in the ket­tle and get all ex­cited,” said Acosta. “I just love peo­ple com­ing out of the store and com­ing to the ket­tle to put money in there and say, ‘Have a Merry Christ­mas.’”

Art Samora and Viet­nam Vet­er­ans were ring­ing the bell next to the ket­tle at Town and Coun­try Mar­ket.

“I want to help and put my part to this com­mu­nity,” said Samora, adding he has been par­tic­i­pat­ing as a bell ringer in the last few years. “I like when I see Viet­nam Vet­er­ans and they come by and do­nate and talk to me. I re­ally like to help Grace also.”

Grace Muñoz Rios, who co­or­di­nates place­ment and staffing of the Sal­va­tion Army ket­tles in Por-

ville, is cur­rently ask­ing for vol­un­teers to serve as bell ringers this hol­i­day sea­son. Last year the bell ring­ing cam­paign brought in nearly $5,000, and they hope to raise about the same this year.

“We don’t get enough peo­ple to vol­un­teer,” said Rios. “The ket­tle money has de­creased in the last cou­ple years. The first years that I got in­volved in the ket­tle pro­gram we had a core group, I re­mem­ber we made about 8,000 dol­lars, but now we make about 5,000 dol­lars.”

There is only two sites for the bell ringers here in Porter­ville, and the main rea­son is they can never get enough vol­un­teers. The Sal­va­tion Army Bell Ringers need five peo­ple per site per day, 10 peo­ple on Fri­day, and 10 peo­ple on Satur­day.

Vol­un­teers take two hour shifts, and the rule is once you start ring­ing the bell, you can’t stop.

“We love to have fam­i­lies, kids, groups and any­one at all to vol­un­teer for this pro­gram,” added Rios. “It takes a lot of peo­ple to make this ef­fort a suc­cess, and I hope we get more vol­un­teers.”

Those who wish to sign up to be a bell ringer this year can con­tact Rios at (559) 289-9381. All money col­lected from the ket­tles goes to­ward peo­ple who need a hand through­out the year.

RECORDER PHOTO BY CHIEKO HARA

First-time bell ringer Margaret Col­gan rings a bell in front of Town and Coun­try Mar­ket on Olive Av­enue.

RECORDER PHOTO BY CHIEKO HARA

First-time bell ringer Margaret Col­gan rings a bell in front of Town and Coun­try Mar­ket on Olive Av­enue.

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