Bell Ringer’s Singing Inspires “Giving Back”
The Salvation Army of Minneapolis, MN received a rave review of a certain kettle bell ringer stationed at the Mall of America last week.
“As we were walking into the mall, a man was ringing a Salvation Army bell, but more remarkable, he was singing. But not just singing–this man was singing “Joy to the World” with an indescribable joy in his heart–the type of song that gives you goose bumps and sends shivers throughout the body. I don’t know who the guy was but I will never forget the joy and heartfelt song that I heard from that man last Friday.”
The man behind that uplifting voice is Mark Mitchell, a resident at The Salvation Army’s Harbor Light Center in Minneapolis, MN. I had the opportunity to speak with Mark on the phone about his experience and support of the organization:
How did you get involved with The Salvation Army?
I was one of those kids who always got into problems- I was always into some kind of mess. Had it not been for the people at The Salvation Army, I would not have been able to turn my life around.
I was entered into the BOLT program – Basics Of Life Training program – to get my life back on track and to get a better understanding of what I’m called to do as a man. Before the program, I didn’t know why I was here. After I came out of the program, I had a new perspective about what God wanted me to do. I know my priorities now: having a good relationship with my children, being a better husband, father, and citizen. So that’s what I’m doing now and I’m giving back to the same people that helped me get here.
Living in Illinois and Michigan, I’ve realized The Salvation Army touches so many people’s lives. When you see those kettles out there, you don’t understand what a penny or two can do each day. The Harbor Light Center shelters and feeds thousands of people every day. It’s filled with people who have walked the same path as me. They’ve turned their life around now they can turn right around and give back.
When did you start ringing the bells?
This is the second time I’ve had the chance to come out and enjoy ringing for The Salvation Army. It’s an awesome experience! Being able to share the message of The Salvation Army and how they’ve inspired me, along with the true meaning of Christmas- that’s why I’m here.
You have an amazing voice! I got chills watching the video. When did you start singing?
I’ve been singing since I was nine years old. I actually put a record out when I was 12 years old singing R & B music. For a lot of people in the music industry, having a lot of money at a young age is not a good thing. After I became part of the BOLT program, I found that this gift that was given to me could be shared. Now I sing gospel!
Any final words you’d like to put out there for readers?
To all the people out there: when you see those red kettles, remember that we’re all Americans. The Salvation Army is a way for you to take care of your fellow community members. If you need a place to volunteer, go see your local Salvation Army.
I was amazed at Mark’s passion for the organization. In fact, he was ringing the bell the entire time we were chatting. Right before we said goodbye, Mark bellowed a jolly “Merry Christmas” in his best Santa voice to someone dropping change into his kettle. What an amazing guy!