Bell ringers 1

Salvation Army Bell Ringer Robin Crate rings the bell as he greets customers going into Belk in December 2018.

The holiday season is fast approaching, and with the holidays come one of the season’s most recognizable trademarks: bell ringers for The Salvation Army, raising money outside businesses throughout town. And as winter draws nearer, the nonprofit is looking for volunteers to aid in its biggest fundraiser of the year.

The nationwide nonprofit has a slew of programs to help people in need through the fall and winter months, including coat drives, free meals and more. Many of these programs are made possible through the bell ringing, Captain Martha Higdon said.

“Bell ringing is crucial to our operations throughout the year, 500%,” she said. “It’s our one major fundraiser, and that’s a springboard for the entire year. If you don’t have that springboard going into the year, yes we do have some people who give some monthly checks, but that’s not the same as a large event that can help you plan for the

entire year.”

Early bell ringing began this weekend at Walmart, and the bell ringing season will officially kick off everywhere on Black Friday weekend. Other bell ringing locations will include Walgreens, Belk, JCPenney, Hobby Lobby, Bealls, Kroger, Brookshire’s, Atwood and Save-A-Lot.

Ideally, Salvation Army hopes to have between 130-150 volunteers to help with the campaign.

“It sounds like a lot, but it’s really not that much when you consider all the locations we have and the fact that some people can only ring for a little bit at a time,” Major Francko Higdon said. “We also love to see when churches, schools, businesses and whatnot get involved and volunteer together as a team. That’s always a lot of fun, and we’d like to see more organizations get involved in it like that.”

To volunteer, you can go to registertoring.com and choose the location you’d like to ring at, what times you’re free and how long you can ring for. You can also register to ring by calling the local Salvation Army office, 903-784-7548

Martha Higdon said the fundraising goal is $41,000, and she’s confident they can far exceed that if businesses do days where they match funds.

“There will be some businesses that, for a day, will match what we make that day and donate it, and that can really do a lot of good,” she said.

“This is just a great way to help the community, because all of this money will go towards allowing us to better serve the people of Paris,” Francko Higdon said.

Tommy Culkin is a staff writer for The Paris News. He can be reached at 903-785-6972 or at tommy.culkin@theparisnews.com.

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