"Every single bell gets blessed because I am very blessed," said Deborah Rowen.
The Salvation Army's annual bell ringing is a staple at area locations. For the 5 weeks leading up to Christmas, volunteers help raise money so the Salvation Army can assist those in need.
"It's great, it's beautiful," said bell ringer Brian Seagrove.
"I've met a lot of good people, a lot of kids are giving too this year and it's real fun."
However, the rough economy has affected everyone, including the Salvation Army. With a lower than expected number of volunteers, the organization is relying on paid bell ringers for the annual fundraiser, which depletes the money available to give back to the community.
"Of course that makes our profit a little less," said Major James Parrish of the Salvation Army.
"And while we are able to help a number of people by giving them a job to do, that will help them. It doesn't help us in the long run, after the first of the year, because we don't have the extra monies that we need to operate."
Last year, nearly 25% of the proceeds raised went to paying the employees. The Salvation Army is hoping for an increase in volunteers this season so more of that money could go directly to the Army's charitable services.
"It becomes very important for us to do well," said Parrish.
"It helps us through the first three or four months of the new year with helping people with their utility assistance and rent assistance."
Officials with the Salvation Army encourage everyone, from businesses to church groups, to get involved this year.
"We're looking for more volunteers. Volunteers do a much better job sometimes of connecting with the public since many of them are their neighbors and friends," Major Parrish commented.
This holiday season, there may be no better gift than the gift of giving your time to help others.
Ringing continues Mondays through Saturdays from 10 A.M. until 8 P.M. at all 19 area locations through Christmas Eve.
For more information on how you can volunteer, contact the Salvation Army at 325-677-1408