Bell-ringers raise money

Published 12:15 am Saturday, November 26, 2011

Christy Riddick has been ringing the bell for the Salvation Army for more than 40 years. She said her favorite part of the job is seeing children giving money.

Christy Riddick has been ringing the Salvation Army bell for 42 years.

In those years, she has watched thousands of people drop thousands of coins and dollar bills into the iconic red kettle the organization uses to collect money during the holiday season.

But the ones that always get her are the children, who beg their parents for change to be able to put into the kettle.

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“The kids are very jolly,” she said. “Sometimes, more jolly than their elders.”

Riddick is one of dozens who will ring the bell for the Salvation Army of Suffolk throughout this holiday season. The nickels and dimes dropped into the kettles by shoppers are vital to the organization’s goals, said Maj. Dan Turner, kettle volunteer coordinator for the Salvation Army.

“This is the one time of year that hearts are open and people really want to help people,” Turner said. “The Salvation Army is a vehicle to make that happen.”

The money is used for the organization’s holiday programs and carries over to other programs, such as utility and food assistance, for as long as it lasts.

“It’s just about one thing — to see God supplying all our needs,” Riddick said. “God’s been supplying our needs.”

Riddick said her favorite part of the job is seeing the children give and being able to brighten the lives of people who pass by — whether they give or not.

As she jingles the bell, she talks to each person who walks by. “How are you doing?” she asks. “God bless you.” People who drop money into the kettle get a thank-you and another “God bless.”

“The kids love to give,” she said. “Some of them will cry if their parents don’t give them change to give. It feels good helping others.”

Riddick said some people will say mean things to her, and many try to ignore her.

“Sometimes people will tell you, ‘On the way out,’” she said. “Sometimes they mean it and sometimes they don’t.”

But no matter how much money is in the kettle at the end of the day, Riddick said she enjoys the work.

“It brings joy to me, so I give the joy right back,” she said.

The Salvation Army is looking for volunteers and paid workers to ring the bells. Turner said covering the Walmarts every day is a priority, but grocery stores and other retail locations also will have bell-ringers out front throughout the season.

If you prefer to donate online or start your own “virtual kettle” where friends and family can donate, visit