They brave the cold, rain and snow while hoping that the ringing of their bell will get the attention of passersby who are in the midst of Christmas shopping or just making a quick stop to pick up a gallon of milk. Yes, I’m talking about the Salvation Army bell-ringers standing, singing and even dancing near the signature red kettles of the Salvation Army.

    The Salvation Army, which dates back to 1878, now helps disaster survivors worldwide, provides shelter, works toward curing hunger, helps people overcome poverty, combat addiction, share God’s love, serves the LGBTQ community, assists the unemployed, fights human trafficking and serves veterans.

    With the way Thanksgiving Day fell this year on the calendar, there are six fewer official Christmas shopping days. Let’s hope this shortened span doesn’t result in fewer donations.

    People throughout the Fenton area are accustomed to seeing our friendly bell-ringers in front of VG’s, Walgreens and Walmart. Sometimes it’s just one person, other times, it’s a group of friends volunteering together. Some do it for community service, while others do it because they have benefitted from the efforts of the Salvation Army in the past. Whatever their reason, they are volunteering their time to help people in need in our community.

    Have you ever thought about being a bell-ringer? There is a “Register to Ring” online form on with the Salvation Army of Genesee County. Currently, they are seeking volunteers to fill time slots at VG’s and Walmart in Fenton.

    In most cases, a volunteer signs up for a shift for a minimum of two hours, however, four-hour shifts are preferred. To make it more fun, bring a friend and be sure to dress warm.

    Fewer people carry cash today, which has had an impact on donations. In response, the Salvation Army has added a microchip to red kettles so that people who don’t carry cash could still make a monetary donation via Apple Pay or Google Pay. To make a sustaining monthly gift, you can go to salvationarmyusa.org and follow the links for “giving now.”

    The Salvation Army’s mission is, “Doing The Most Good.” In these four words, their mission is to feed, to clothe, to comfort, and to care.

According to its 2018 annual report, the Salvation Army:

•     provided more than 5.8 million meals and         drinks to victims and aid workers

•  operated 3,042 service extension units across the country

•  served 52,259,152 meals to the hungry

• operated 141 rehabilitation centers nationwide

• generated 38,987 job referrals through employee assistance program

• provided 9,905,970 people with shelter

• Revenue $4,322,792

• Expenses $3,700,599

    In other words, every dollar counts. So, the next time you walk past a bell-ringer be reminded of the good that your loose change or dollars will do as you put them in the red kettle. Merry Christmas!

 Sharon Stone is the editor of the Tri-County Times. To contact her, email her at sstone@tctimes.com or call her at (810) 433-6786.

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