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Ringing bells is a good way to warm your heart

December 16, 2012
Messenger News

Supper often sounds like standing outside in the cold ringing bells for the Salvation Army. It's just warmer.

My husband is still at Tompkins Center, and I almost always eat supper with him. There's a big table next to us in the sun room where they've got a game in hand. Little bells on the tables sit there so residents can call an aide if they need something during supper. But the bells are little and don't tinkle loudly.

Dr. John Sear, who almost always eats with his wife Dorismae, and Clarence "Bud" Rice sit at opposite ends of that extended table, and they've become a ringing duo. Each picks up a bell and rings in unison. That's a sound nobody can ignore.

It's like eating supper at a family get-together. Heck, I'm thinking of getting myself a bell for meals with my sister. I'd do it, too, except she'd break my arm the first time I rang it at her.

Just the idea makes me laugh. Sure, it's always fun until somebody gets hurt.

For many years I rang bells for the Salvation Army as part of The Messenger's ringing day. We stood in front of Target for a few years, then moved over to Hy-Vee. We took hour-long shifts, two of us ringing together, and even in the cold I enjoyed it. So many people I knew walked past people I seldom saw just because that's the way life is.

So, while I shivered in the cold - and we invariably pulled the coldest day to ring - I felt warm and happy because of seeing these people. I suspect I'd have felt that way anyway, even if I knew no one who passed.

There's not a lot of body heat produced by bending your elbow and wrist to ring bells, but just the ringing is heart-warming. You're standing there for a good cause, and the feeling that comes from that warms you inside out.

If you've never rung bells, there still might be time this year. If you don't know of a group who is doing it, stop in at the Salvation Army building on Seventh Street and ask if they need your help. This volunteering doesn't take long, and you can dress warmly enough to offset the weather.

But and there's always a but if you don't like the idea of ringing bells asking for money, that doesn't mean you can't help. You can be a part of the cause by dropping money into those red kettles whenever you see one. And it's an important part of the cause.

I can't give you figures about the lack of money the Salvation Army faces, but I know they're always needing money and depending on the community for such help. It's one of the things the community can do to help itself.

So go ring bells. Donate money. Stop in for noon lunches and pass out food or clean up the kitchen.

Maybe they'll give you a bell to ring when the dishes are done.

So long friends, until the next time when we're together.

Sandy Mickelson, retired lifestyle editor of The Messenger, may be reached at



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