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Salvation Army volunteers ring bells for holiday donations

It’s that time of year for The Salvation Army bell ringers to make their appearance outside stores and shopping centers.

In Idaho Falls, 15 bell ringers have been collecting donations from generous shoppers for several days.

Of course everyone knows the donations help families and children in need have a little more Christmas cheer, but what most folks don’t realize is that sometimes the bell ringers can benefit too.

“You just hope they donate, you don’t try to force anybody,” said Ron Zehntner, a bell ringer.

If anyone knows how to get people to open their hearts and wallets, it’s Zehntner.

“I like people. I like to talk to people and I feel like I’m part of the holiday season,” said Zehntner. “It gets me out of the house and out here where everything is going on. It’s fun.”

Zehntner has been a bell ringer for the Salvation Army of Idaho Falls for the last decade. For some bell ringers, the Christmas kettles mean a guaranteed job during the holidays.

“That way they can have a little funding for Christmas if they want to buy Christmas presents for their families, maybe pay one month’s rent or utilities,” said James Halverson, Salvation Army Major. “That gives them the opportunity to do that, so we like to hire them for that purpose.”

Zehntner said asking folks for donations eight hours a day isn’t easy work, but the greater cause is worth it.

“It’s a long day outside in the cold, so you have to make sure you’re prepared and try to be friendly,” said Zehntner. “If you have the personality, that’s a good thing.”

The Christmas kettle is the biggest fundraiser for the Salvation Army. Last year in Idaho Falls alone, shoppers donated around $90,000 in only a month and a half.

“I think that’s one thing that we do the most, through the kettles and through other donations to the army, is touch lives” said Halverson.

You can find The Salvation Army bell ringers outside stores like Fred Meyer’s, TJ Maxx, Walmart and Sportsman’s Warehouse.

They work from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday.

If you would like to join The Salvation Army’s efforts and become a bell ringer, give them a call at (208) 522-7200.

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