The Salvation Army has been ringing bells and collecting donations during the Christmas season for 118 years, which is how long the charitable organization has been operating in Spokane. Last year, the Red Kettle campaign raised $230,000 for the nonprofit organization’s charitable programs in the Spokane area. This year, the traditional campaign gets a high-tech upgrade with the addition of a credit card option for donors at one Spokane site, the Wandermere Fred Meyer store at North Division Street and Hastings Road. There to take your gift, electronically or otherwise, is Ted Morris, Spokane’s No. 1 bell-ringing fundraiser for the past two years. Morris shared his thoughts on bell-ringing and charity with The Spokesman-Review last week.
Q.What makes a good bell-ringer?
A.“There’s no secret to my success. You have to smile. You have to love people. You never know what anybody is going to say to you these days. You have to be ready for it and you have to have fun with it,” said Morris, who is an unpaid volunteer.
“It is my way of giving back; I have so much to be thankful for.”
Q.How’s the new credit-card kettle working out?
A.It’s been used a few times, he said, adding that it does provide another option for giving.
Q.What effect is the economy having on contributions?
A.“I haven’t seen a drop-off in donations,” Morris said. “Of course, the daily tally is done in the office.” A final count won’t be available until the end of the season.
Q.What’s the biggest donation you have received?
A.“Every year a firefighter drops a $100 bill into the kettle.” Morris said the firefighter told him he has seen firsthand that the Salvation Army is always there in time of need.
“I wouldn’t mind seeing one of those gold coins I’ve heard about.” (Last month, the Salvation Army of Grand Island, Neb., received a donation of an 1878 gold $20 Liberty coin worth $1,300.)
“On good days we can raise between $300 and $600” in one kettle, Morris said.
Q.Who is most likely to give and who is least likely to?
A.“The elderly are the most likely to give, and the very young,” Morris said. “I see people teaching their children (how to put money in the kettle) every day.
“I don’t have an answer for who is least likely to give. Between the children and the elderly, there is a gap, but I think we are all going to meet in the middle someday.”
Q.Where does the money go?
A.“It stays in the Spokane area, every dime,” Morris said. Donations go to support Salvation Army programs such as the Emergency Family Shelter, Stepping Stones transitional housing, the food bank and Sally’s House emergency foster care. “It’s a way to help your own community.”