Salvation Army Bell Ringer Wears His Passion for History


ANKENY, Iowa- Each day at 7 am during Christmas season David Thompson of Ankeny dons his Civil War uniform and heads to the Ankeny State Street HyVee.

Thompson is a volunteer bell-ringer for the Salvation Army Red Kettle there. Each week during the Red Kettle season, he has worn a different historic military uniform.

“I went to a reenactment one time in Lamoni, I Iowa 13 years ago and I noticed that they do a lot of camping I said oh I got to get into this been doing it ever since,' said Thompson. “I have a World War II uniform I wore the first week, the second week I wore my grandfather's uniform that he was in— seventh Wisconsin Iron Brigade Company B.

Thompson enjoys chatting with the people who come to the store. He likes explaining the uniform he is wearing.

“This is a light artilleryman's uniform, light because it's got a short shell jacket,” said Thompson. “It's 100% wool sock feels real good specially in cold-weather.”

Thompson wants to help the Salvation Army. In his 30 years as a Des Moines Firefighter he remembers Salvation Army coming to fire scenes at night in the winter with their canteen truck, and serving warm coffee and food.

The Salvation Army loves volunteers like Thompson.

“We have a few people like him who are wonderful they are just such a gift,” said Kristin Pike, of the Des Moines Salvation Army. “I was so excited to get his phone call this year because I knew that he's just been a great volunteer for us.”

This year is a challenge so far for the Central Iowa Red Kettle program.

“The kettles themselves are about 20% down,” said Pike. “Our mail appeal in our online giving her doing just fine, it's right where we like them to be but our kettles are a little down this year, the really cold weather doesn't always help.

Thompson is ringing the bell at the State Street HyVee from 7-12 each morning, Monday through Friday.