TYLER, Texas — It takes an army of volunteers to keep those bells ringing at the red kettles locations across East Texas. This year, the Salvation Army of Tyler set a big goal of raising $400,000 which will help people in the community get back on their feet. It's a responsibility one East Texas man takes to heart year after year. His dedication is 'Totally East Texas.'
The ringing of the Salvation Army Bell is an iconic sound of the season. "It's Christmas," Salvation Army Volunteer David Booth said. "My Christmas spirit starts when I get out here and start ringing the bell."
With a jingle and a smile, David Booth, as many East Texans do, gives his time to the Salvation Army during the holidays. It's a tradition he started 20 years ago.
"This is this what I do for Christmas," Booth said. "So this year, I signed up for 14 different days at six different places: Brookshire's, Chick-fil-A and Walgreens and I'm really looking forward to it."
The retired pharmacist spent many years sacrificing his own vacation time to make the holiday for others a bit brighter. "It was just one thing I wanted to do. So I would save up my time, so I'd have more days to ring bells for the Salvation Army," he said.
No rest for the retired, David committed to 28 hours this year with a red kettle by his side and a bell in hand. "Now the Salvation Army does a great work with all their ministries, and this is just my way to help them because they're working every day of the year, and they're helping people," he added.
The Salvation Army says for every four hours of time volunteered that allows the Salvation Army to help one family. So, David will be helping at least seven, but there's no telling the lives he touches on a daily basis as he spreads Christmas cheer with a jolly "hello."
It's a tradition that's more than 100 years old and it warms David's heart. "Especially the little kids when they come up and they put those pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters in like kettle that makes my day and I like to greet everybody that comes. It just makes me happy and to see them happy too," booth said.
Each penny saved and each dollar dropped in the kettle funds helps the Salvation Army's programs to provide hot meals to those in need. Giving them a warm place to come out of the cold or the heat, clothing them and helping children and seniors.
The Red Kettle Campaign makes up about 1/4 of their annual budget. "So, I think of all these people that we're helping and that I just want to be part of it and I want to help them out," booth said.
It's not too late to sign up to ring a Salvation Army bell. They are still working to fill 5,000 volunteer hours. If you're looking for a new holiday tradition, you can register to ring online at registertoring. You just need to put in your zip code to get started.