Kettle Bells Still Ringing

“She’s got the rhythm,” Wheeling Salvation Army Maj. John Blevins said of one local volunteer’s bell ringing style.

Jeanette Ruffins of Wheeling has been a Salvation Army bell ringer since 2006. She values donating her time so others can donate to those in need.

With bell in hand, Ruffins can be found standing next to the classic red Salvation Army tripod and kettle outside Wal-Mart during the holiday season. Believing most people who pass her station are very generous, Ruffins said a small contribution, “even a quarter,” can make a big difference.

“It all adds up,” she said.

Recognizing that people are just as generous with their kindness as they are with their wallets, Ruffins offered examples of common conversations that occur while she is bell ringing.

“Sometimes people come by and ask if I need a hot drink,” she said. “Most people say ‘hi’ or ‘happy holidays.'”

Ruffins said those who add money to the kettle are diverse. She has met many people who contribute during their travels.

“You do a good deed for somebody – something good’s going to happen,” she said. “I believe in that.”

Further, as the money remains in the Ohio Valley, local residents “donate to the Salvation Army because they know where the money is going.”

Blevins said the Salvation Army is 15 percent down in kettle donations this year.

“If you pass a kettle, please give,” he said.

The Salvation Army bell ringing season runs from Nov. 15 to Dec. 24. Bell ringers, including both individual volunteers and those from local service clubs and churches, can be found outside the Mount de Chantal Road and Warwood Kroger stores, Riesbeck’s Food Markets, Ben Franklin, Dollar Zone, Cabela’s, J.C. Penney and Wal-Mart. Many of these businesses have taken care of bell ringers by providing them with drinks or food.

“We want to thank the community for what they’ve done,” Blevins said. “I hope that we always have the bell ringers out there. It’s part of Christmas.”

In Moundsville, Salvation Army Lt. Don Marcellino had a hard time finding people to work the kettles this year. He also said donations are down from previous years. In recent years, the figures had been near the $50,000 mark, with about half going to pay people to man the kettles.

But as of Wednesday, they only had $16,000. The organization serves Marshall, Wetzel and Tyler counties.

He said money from the kettles is used not only to help people during the Christmas season, but throughout the winter months for clothing items, paying rent for the needy, operating costs of the costs, and other services the Salvation Army offers.

Staff Writer Jim Cochran contributed to this report.