What Makes a Good Bell Ringer?

By Phillip Martin, Social Services Case Manager for The Salvation Army Western Pennsylvania Division

Having been a volunteer for the The Salvation Army in Western Pennsylvania for over thirty years, I’ve learned a thing or two about what makes a good bell ringer during our Red Kettle Campaign.

  1.  The first thing you have to do is get a good night’s sleep. There may be times while you’re at your stand when things get a little slow. If you’re sleepy, that time can seem to last awhile! A good night’s sleep is key.
  2. Pray when you get up in the morning. Bell ringing is not easy and your attitude will reflect in your kettle service. A good attitude makes all the difference in the world in your service and influence to those around you.
  3. On that note, be engaging: Make passersby feel recognized and welcomed.
  4. Cold feet means defeat: Keep warm if need be. I recommend you have the appropriate clothing according to the weather in your area.  You can do this by wearing warm footwear, socks (bring an extra pair just in case) and by not standing in one place. Standing on a small piece of carpet or cardboard is also a great way to insulate your feet from the cold ground.
  5. Remember to eat and drink something. Your attitude and facial expressions will show if you are hungry or thirsty. I recommend keeping a few energy bars or fruit on hand in case you need an energy boost.
  6. Reflect on the reason for the season: Above all, speak words of love and greetings to others, whether they choose to put something in the kettle or not. Remember they may come your way again!
  7. One more thing, always be in prayer, especially when someone seems to be having a bad day. Pray for them as well as yourself, and always do your work as unto the Lord.
  8. And finally, Rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say rejoice!

These tips are what have worked for me over the years. I thank you for your wonderful support of The Salvation Army’s 122nd year of Red Kettle collections. Together, we’ll help provide assistance to 30 million Americans in 2013!

Happy Ringing! 


Volunteer bell ringer and guest blogger, Phillip Martin, is a Social Services Case Manager for The Salvation Army’s Western Pennsylvania Division. He has been involved with the Army since the age of 13. In addition to his MS in Criminal Justice Administration, he has a certificate in Drug and Alcohol Addiction Counseling. For more information about The Salvation Army’s Social Services in Western Pennsylvania, please visit http://www.use.salvationarmy.org/use/www_use_westpenn.nsf or www.SalvationArmyUSA.org.