The Salvation Army bells are ringing again this year across America, with volunteers covering virtually every postcode.
For over 120 years, Red Teapot Street, as it is called, has been a familiar iconic landmark, from the streets of New York to the less-visited alleys of distant America.
There is no zip code in the country that is not protected in any way by The Salvation Army, Captain Jeremy Walker of Tyler, Texas, told The Epoch Times on December 14.
Most of the people doing hard work across the country, in any area, are unpaid laborers. “These year-round workers exemplify some of the best qualities of sacrificial volunteering a country has to offer,” Tyler said.
The Red Dummies raise funds for Christmas dinners, gifts for children, seasonal entertainment and friendships for those in need, but there is much more to it, Walker said.
“Proceeds from the local Red Teapots are used to fund most of the programs that the Salvation Army center in your area does throughout the year,” he said. “This includes food, beds, social services, vocational training, rehabilitation programs, visits, disaster relief, trafficking advocacy, centers for the elderly – everything we do, anywhere that helps people get back on track. legs”.
This year, millions of dollars will be raised across the country from countless small donations thrown into teapots by passers-by. According to the Salvation Army’s website, 82 cents from every dollar goes towards funding their programs. “Everything that is assembled at the local Red Kettle plant will remain in this community,” Walker said.
The heart of the giver
In East Texas, Jeffrey Gordon, 43, stands next to a red kettle ringing a bell in front of a Wal-Mart. It is in Lindale with a population of about 4,000 and is approaching the last hours of a long 10 hour shift. Gordon, however, continues to smile as he greets seasonal people entering or exiting the store. He pauses for a few precious moments to talk about his experience.
“It’s really humiliating to see and talk to these people who are giving, especially when it seems obvious that some are giving out of their needs,” he said. “There are all kinds of donations – families, women with children, grandparents. They put their coins or dollar bills and say, “Merry Christmas.” They are so kind and generous. It’s really touching. “
Although most donations are small, sometimes donations get larger.
“Not long ago, I saw someone put in a hundred dollar bill,” he said. “Sometimes it’s hard to believe.”
There isn’t really a typical volunteer ringing bell profile, Walker said.
“The bells are ringing everything and everyone,” he said. “We see families going out to ring the bells; grandparents with grandchildren; several generations; all strata of society and any nationality. ” Even the local sheriff’s department in his area is involved, he said.
“This year in Tyler, we have the First Responders Challenge, which includes the Fire Department, Police Department, Ambulance Service, Air One and the Sheriff’s Department. They walk all day long, ring the bells, and the winner receives a “travel” trophy. The local car company donated $ 10,000 so that we can buy bicycles for the kids. We split funds between five Wal-Mart in our area and bought bicycles to distribute for Christmas. It’s a community effort and it’s amazing because people go out and help other people. “
Walker’s wife, Michelle, is also the Salvation Army in Tyler.
“It’s no exaggeration to say that our volunteers spend thousands of hours every month all year round,” said Ms Walker. “The work is hard and never-ending, but they do it month after month.”
As a result, she says volunteering can be emotional and exhausting.
“Whether it’s a visit to the hospital, or when a person holds someone’s hand when they die, or sits with someone and listens to their life story, it’s always about people, people, people,” she said. “This has been the case since our founding in London over 150 years ago. This is our tradition. “
The nation holds its hands together
Less familiar to the public, but well known to the professional first responders, are the Salvation Army mess mess trucks. They converge from different states, aiming for fires, earthquakes, and weather-related disasters across the country, anytime, anywhere. Jeremy Walker was the disaster commander who represented Texas when Hurricane Ida hit Louisiana in August. As a result, he knows what the organization is doing after the Kentucky tornado.
“When it comes to a natural disaster, people have to go through many stages,” he said. “Yes, we do practical, physical things, but we also provide emotional and spiritual help to people who may be at their lowest. In our approach, it is important to be holistic, not just physically. “
The Texas Incident Team in Louisiana remained long after the hurricane left, which is typical of the army, he said.
“During Ida there was a big command center that we were a part of for a couple of months. We had two teams going to these small swamps, feeding people and helping. During every disaster I have worked with, I am very addicted to it because you see the community coming together. This is the time that you see this nation crossing its arms, going to work and digging people out. I am so proud to be a part of this. “
We do it every day
Despite all the help, Jeremy Walker said, “This year here in Tyler there is a sorely lack of bell ringers. We would like to be 100% volunteers, but we think it’s not because of Covid. ”
He had to come up with some creative alternatives on his own, while Michelle, along with a female helper of 300 volunteers, participated in the annual Angel Tree gift for children in need. People in general choose a baby to give it for Christmas, and women make sure everything is provided. Meanwhile, Jeremy Walker is in charge of the big red teapots.
“Our goal with teapots this year is to volunteer 80 percent and pay 20 percent, but that’s okay,” he said. “We don’t mind helping people get change for Christmas. We pay at the bottom of the scale, and that helps them a little. For some reason, it is very difficult to attract more people to volunteer right now, but hopefully this will change by next year. ”
Gordon said: “It doesn’t sound like ringing the bells is very important, but in fact … it is. This year there are not enough calls, so I work here for 10 hours. “
Jeremy Walker said that during the well-attended Thanksgiving meal served each year by the military and volunteers, new employees ask him the same question.
“They are always amazed at what they see, all the people and the food, and they say, ‘Captain, do you do this every year? “And I say,” We do this every day. “
Solution, not a patch
When asked what she would like people to know about the Salvation Army, Michelle Walker replied, “I think most people don’t understand that all army officers are ordained priests. This could be one of our most unexpected secrets. My husband and I graduated from our own Salvation Army seminaries, entered cadets and received lieutenants. This is why the army does what it does, and why we love people so much. First of all, we are the church. “
“We don’t want to be just a band-aid,” said Jeremy Walker. “We want to find a solution. We want to be more than a temporary physical fix. “
Both Walkers seem typical of the Salvation Army’s tireless vision.
“This work that we do is hard and not easy,” said Jeremy Walker. “This is a lot, but it’s useful because we are changing lives – and we are not just changing lives right now, but we are changing lives forever, and this is what we are striving for. This is the goal. “