GREENSBORO, N.C. - The Salvation Army started its bell ringing campaign Friday. However, you might not realize two-thirds of the bell ringers have something in common. They are paid.
Jimmy Mills is one of the few bell ringers who volunteers his time.
"It's harder than it looks," Mills said. "It gives me a reward inside. It's really hard to describe unless you've actually done it yourself. Every time I give something back to the community, I seem to get more out of it for myself personally and spiritually."
Mills wishes more people would realize how much a few hours ringing the bell pays off.
Salvation Army Major Don Vick said, "It is highly competitive for the contributing dollar out there. We just want people to know that we'll put it to maximum use to keep people off the street as best as we can."
The Red Kettle Campaign raised more than $850,000 in the Triad last year. Even though the Salvation Army would like to have more volunteers, the group says its paid bell ringers are happy to have a job.
"I'm blessed," paid bell ringer Angelia Diakhite said. "It gives me an opportunity to help families that are less fortunate than me."
Diakhite says the organization saved her life by helping her get back on her feet.
No matter who rings the bell, the community need grows larger every year.
"It's a critical time for us. We have to have that bell ringing the maximum number of hours," Major Vick said.
Last year, the Salvation Army spent about $41,000 paying bell ringers. A lack of volunteers is nothing new. The Salvation Army says the last time there were more volunteers than paid bell ringers was about fifty years ago.
Find out more about becoming a bell ringer volunteer.