DES MOINES, Iowa -- Whoever said doing good was easy work? "It gets rough being on your feet, and you know, ringing the bell all day, hearing this thing constantly. Yes, I hear it in my sleep, so it kinda gets annoying," said bell ringer Julie Davis, as she collected money in front of the Price Chopper on Ingersoll Avenue. Being ignored also gets annoying. "Whether I say 'hi' or just smile at them and I don’t get anything back, that hurts, you know, and it really makes the job tough, because...I`m a caring person and...if I`m going to say 'hi' to you or smile at you, please...have the decency to acknowledge me back," said Davis. "I`m not asking for the world, just some kindness," she said.
But bell ringing is not all bad. "I love meeting the people out in the public. I love my customers. I mean, I have regulars that know me by name now, and depending on location, where I'm working, like here, I know some of the employees by name and it's just a joy," said Davis, who has been a bell ringer for seven years. Davis knows first hand about the good the The Salvation Army does in the lives of people. "The Salvation Army has helped me in the past like two or three times for rent and personal items," said Davis.
And for Davis, bell ringing is in part, a way of giving back, as it is for others who take the time to stop from their busy schedules, and drop money into the red kettle. "I like giving back, just because so many people have given back to me, so I like to pay it forward, no matter what, how, who, or where," said Shalanda Grady, who donated money.
David and Diana Whitaker don't even live in this community. They're just visiting from Houston, but that didn't stop them from giving. "I give to everybody because I`ve been blessed," said David Whitaker. "I want to bless others. I make the wealth and I spread it, so I don`t mind giving to others," he said. "I`ve had kids and when they were younger, I`ve always been able to get from The Salvation Army," said David's wife, Diana. "They`ve always been there for me, so this is how I return my thanks," she said.
From $20 bills to pennies, no amount is too small, as it all adds up to make a difference. "We love it all...it doesn`t matter if you give dollar bills or...your spare change," said Davis. "Every little bit helps, that`s what matters," she said.
"The guys who invest and all of that, they`re the ones that will write you a check, put it in the mail, and send it to you," said Major James Beardsley, Iowa Capital Area Coordinator with the Salvation Army. "But, the everyday guy, that`s going out, guys, gals, and the families, and shopping, they`re the ones that are putting in the nickels, dimes, and pennies and it`s important that we get the nickels and dimes and pennies because that`s what`s saying what the community feels," said Beardsley.
The Salvation Army is currently down $20,000 in its fundraising totals from where it was at this time last year. Hundreds of bell ringers are needed from now through Christmas Eve. To find out how you can get involved, visit www.salvationarmy-desmoines.org and www.ringdesmoines.org or call 515-243-RING.