Salvation Army faces shortage of bell ringers


Fewer volunteers are showing up to ring bells for the Salvation Army in Fort Smith.

FORT SMITH, Ark. — The holiday season is here which means it’s that time of year when you can hear bells ringing and the red kettles in front of local businesses.

But this year, it’s a sound you may hear less and less because the Salvation Army is lacking volunteers in the year they need it most.

“We’re not sure what this year is going to look like. We have less bell ringers out, less kettles out,” said Captain Jon Gainey with the Salvation Army in Fort Smith 

Gainey says the bell ringers and kettlebells raise their main source of income to help.

“We do this every year because it helps us all year,” he said.

Gainey says without last year’s funds raised from the kettles they wouldn’t have been able to help so many people in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.

“We have never stopped feeding people, we have never stopped helping people keep their lights on keep food in their pantries, and to make sure they have a meal and a place to stay in the shelter if they need it,” Gainey said. 

As we approach the new year and the unknown, the Salvation Army in Fort Smith is worried it won’t raise what is needed to help others because of the lack of volunteers.

“The need is greater but there are less volunteers,” Gainey said.

The Salvation Army believes because of the pandemic, there are fewer people volunteering to ring the bells, a job that is much needed to help the community.

Robert Hall has been a bell ringer for the Salvation Army for 10 years and says despite the pandemic, volunteering again this year was never an option.

tHe says the only difference is he wears a mask and wipes down the kettle throughout the day.

“I like to help people. Helping people is my calling,” Hall said.

Hall says there’s no greater feeling than watching someone put money in a kettle.

In a time of uncertainty, he encourages people to get out and ring the bells as a volunteer for the Salvation Army.

“We give to them and they give back to us to help other people,” Hall said.

To make giving even safer you can walk up to a kettle station and scan the Google or Apple Pay code with your phone for a contactless donation.

Click here if you’d like to volunteer.