EAGLE COUNTY – There are ding-a-lings, and then there are bell-ringers.Locally, scores of volunteer bell-ringers raise more than one-third of the coming year’s budget for the area’s Salvation Army chapter. That money then goes to help with everything from food aid to paying utility bills for those in danger of being cut off to a tank of gas or a flat tire repair for a stranded motorist.Bell-ringing work can be cold, especially for those working after dark at Wal-Mart, where bell-ringers are required to stay outside. “It’s not bad in the day, though, and since you’re at Wal-Mart you can duck inside for a pair of mittens,” bell-ringer Cricket Pylman said.Pylman, her husband, Rick, and their two kids have been bell-ringing as a family for about four years. “It’s a really fun thing to do as a family,” she said. “We decide every year how often we can, and then we go.”Going out as a family is a good team-building exercise for the Pylmans, and people seem to respond. “People often reward you with change,” Cricket Pylman said of the family’s bouncing and ringing. “Little kids love putting money in the kettles.”
Bell-ringing can be a team-builder for offices, too.Thanks to a plea from broker Amy Dorsey, much of the Slifer, Smith & Frampton staff took bell-ringing shifts last year. Working through her contacts with the Vail Board of Realtors, Dorsey was also able to recruit volunteers from other real estate, mortgage and title companies. Not bad for her first year.Of course, Dorsey was sort of pressed into service. While last year was her first with a bell in her hand, Dorsey was quickly made captain of the Vail Safeway bell-ringers because of her enthusiasm and contact list.”It was great,” Dorsey said. With two people per kettle most of the time, ringers were often paired with people from other Slifer offices.”I’ve gotten to know a lot of people from those offices,” Dorsey said. “And you see lots of people you know.”While Slifer, Smith & Frampton has committed enough people to cover 10 days of bell-ringing in Vail this year, and other firms have also pledged volunteers, the Salvation Army could use some help.
There are spots open at just about every store at the moment, especially Wal-Mart.”Being outside at Wal-Mart has just killed us,” volunteer Joann Levy said. “Because of the cold, we’ve had lots of people cancel.”With so much riding on such a small window of time, Levy and others are starting to get a bit nervous, and are eager for volunteers.”I think we all get more than we give by doing this,” Dorsey said.That applies to kids, too.”I think it’s good for our very fortunate children to get out and start to understand not everyone has it as good as they do,” Cricket Pylman said.
============By the numbers7 – Stores that have bell-ringers29 – Days of bell-ringing30 – Percent of the local Salvation Army’s budget raised by the kettle campaign320 – Bell-ringers in 2003
425 – Families helped to date in 2004 with rent or other emergency aid200 – Families helped by the Salvation Army food pantry310 – Adopt-a-Family packages put together in 2003700 – Food baskets delivered during the 2003 holiday season.==============How to help
The Salvation Army is looking for holiday bell-ringers throughout the valley. Bell-ringing takes place from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. until Dec. 24, and shifts generally last an hour or two. To learn more, call 926-3704.=============================Staff Writer Scott N. Miller can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 613, or email@example.com.Vail Daily, Vail Colorado