Salvation Army Bell Ringers raise money in the spirit of Christmas

Red aprons and jingle bells announce their arrival. Tripod stands carry their will. When approached, they offer you warm smiles. The Salvation Army bell ringers, along with their red kettles, mark the coming of Christmas with a heartwarming act.

Salvation Army is an evangelical part of the universal Christian Church.Founded in 1889; it has been helping people in need for more than a century. Bell Ringing is a traditional fundraising project that takes place every year between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Volunteers or part-time workers ring the bell at malls and supermarkets beside a red kettle stand that holds donations.

Daniel Shadfa works his shifts at Collin Creek Mall with his wife. He has been a Salvation Army employee for five years. They work every day from 12p.m. to 8p.m.for minimum wage, which is $7.25 per hour.

Shadfa and his wife are originally from Pakistan, a Muslim country where Christianity is oppressed.

“I am a Christian,”Shadfa said. “I used to deliver Bibles in my country, and it wasn’t an easy job.”

Since bell ringing only runs from November to Christmas Eve, Shadfa looks for other jobs after Christmas is over.

“Last year I worked at Wal-Mart,” Shadfa said. “But then my son passed away. My wife and I had to go back and forth between the hospital and the house so I lost my job. Now Wal-Mart is looking for young people, I’m 69, and I can’t work there anymore.”

Salvation Army has certain goals each year. This season, the Philippines is their major concern.According to volunteer bell ringer Amit Kumar, it only takes one shift to raise enough money to provide two nights of shelter and four warm meals for the men, women and children who enter their doors every day.

“We have sent 21 people to help with the reconstruction,” Kumar said. “Also, half of the money raised will go there.”

Kumar attends Southern Methodist University and has been volunteering as a bell ringer for five years. His high school first offered the opportunity five years ago and he managed to stick with it.

“It depends on the area, but generally we get about $800 to $1200 in donations every day,” Kumar said. “A lot of people donate because we’ve been around for 125 years, so old people have been growing up with stuff like it. Everyone knows who we are.”

Last year, a Salvation Army bell ringer in Plano stole money from a red kettle and was reported by a customer. Plano Police Department put this under a C misdemeanor – theft under $50. Since then, they have changed their hiring policies.

“They try to take doctors, officers, and people in the military after the theft,” Kumar said. “But they do choose part time workers.”

Shadfa wishes Merry Christmas to every passerby. He said that being a Christian, he wanted to help people.

“If they don’t donate, it’s okay,” Shadfa said. “They come, they donate, it’s good. God bless everyone.”