Helping the Jobless

Bell Ringer Lynn Smith. Photo Courtesy of

Bell Ringers slowed their bells and officially closed down their red kettles as The Salvation Army’s 120th annual Red Kettle Campaign wrapped up on Christmas Eve at stores nationwide. While most bell ringers closing up shop were volunteers, there were some who rang the bells for temporary income.

Among the paid bell ringers was Lynn and Rusty Smith of Ventura, California, first time ringers who are currently down on their luck due to tough economic times. Rusty Smith, an electronics engineer, has been out of a job for three years while Lynn has struggled to find even temporary retail work during the holidays.

While actively searching and questioning how they would pay their month’s bills, a new opportunity presented itself: full time bell ringing. The task of standing for eight hours per shift may have seemed daunting at first, but greeting such a diverse crowd throughout the day has reminded the Smiths of the importance of knowing and helping their community members in need.

The Smiths came to know both sides of the story: those who are helped by The Salvation Army or by those who were.  Clad in a red sweatshirt and bright red lipstick while working at the kettle, Lynn listened to passersby as they shared personal accounts of how The Salvation Army helped them or someone they knew.

Click Here to Listen to the story on NPR.

Each day we witness the results of record unemployment within the United States. To help families in need, The Salvation Army often provides jobs for the unemployed as one of many social service programs. Thanks to your donations throughout this year’s Red Kettle Campaign, The Salvation Army will help approximately 30 million Americans in need just like the Smiths in 2012.

While we are unbelievably thankful for and humbled by stories such as this, we keep families who are struggling in these tough times in our thoughts and prayers. For more information about The Salvation Army, please visit our website at


If you’ve had an uplifting or fun experience with one of your local bell ringers, let us know! Share your story in our comments section below.