Ring-A-Ling: The Salvation Army Story

Every holiday season, these kind individuals ring the trademark bells outside of stores to get donations, but few people recognize these festive volunteers.

Naya Johnson, Columnist

One sure sign it’s the holiday season is when the Salvation Army volunteers suit up with their silver bells and Christmas clothing, and stand outside stores to receive donations. However, many individuals aren’t aware of the organization’s history, or what the donations are used for.

In 1852, William and Catherine Booth began their ministerial career in England, and instead of spending their preaching time in the pulpits, the Booths then took the Christian message to the streets of England where they devoted their time serving people from all walks of life. Later, the couple began training other evangelists until they returned to the East End of London in 1865, with more recruits who wanted to spread the Gospel. For ten years, this small band of volunteers and evangelists went by the name of “The Christian Mission,” and grew in numbers as more people became Christians. While reading the annual report of the progress of “The Christian Mission,” Booth noticed the sentence “The Christian Mission is a volunteer army.” Booth crossed out “volunteer army,” and replaced it with “Salvation Army.”

Today, the Salvation Army serves in 128 countries around the world to meet human need without discrimination, and within the United States, they serve over 25 million annually. The “Salvationists,” a team of about 1.5 million volunteers, address local needs with specialized programs with goals like curing hunger, fighting human trafficking, overcoming poverty, stopping domestic abuse, serving veterans, empowering the arts, assisting the unemployed, loving the elderly, teaching children, helping disaster survivors, equipping families, providing shelter, combating addiction, and sharing God’s love.

Alas, the Salvation Army operates almost entirely with the assistance of these tireless volunteers, and they are always looking for more help in sharing kindness and providing hope. Besides brightening the holidays with monetary donation drives, the Salvation Army also accepts material donations and offers sponsor-a-child programs. If you’re interested in getting directly involved in the action, you can register as a volunteer at their website, http://www.salvationarmyusa.org/usn/ways-to-give/, or at https://phoenixsa.volunteerfirst.org/. It’s time to ring in good tidings, thanks to the Salvation Army!