MY OUTLOOK: Tom Phillips, Salvation Army Bell Ringer

What is your favorite part about bell-ringing?

Watching as parents give a dollar to their little children to put into the kettle and the smile on the kids’ faces

Tom Phillips, Salvation Army Bell RingerHow much money do you think you as an individual raise while bell-ringing?

Very difficult to come up with an average on money raised by an individual since there are so many variables involved such as location, weather, time of day etc. At our location in Edmond it may be around $150 an hour. Volunteers are usually more effective than the paid bell-ringers, especially if they bring their children to help ring the bells.

Why is this important to you?

It is the major annual fundraiser for the Salvation Army and the Army does incredible good works the whole year long

What do you do when the weather is bad?

Unless the weather is dangerously cold we ring rain or shine.

Where do you typically bell ring at?

I ring for three organizations, The Advisory Board of The Salvation Army, the Downtown Rotary club of OKC and my Sunday school class.  Two of those locations are in Edmond and one is in the Belle Isle shopping center.

Do you notice anything about the people who donate?

You can never tell who will put money in the kettle and you cannot judge a book by its cover. Sometimes the folks with the nicest clothes and fancy cars give nothing while people who look like they can barely spare the change are generous givers. This is not a generality however as those roles can also be reversed.

Approximately how many bell ringers are there in Oklahoma?

The Salvation Army Central Oklahoma will have 100 kettles in its three-county area during the Christmas season.

How much money is raised in the Central Oklahoma region each year through this program?

Last year $544,000 was raised through our red kettle program. The Salvation Army never has a guaranteed amount of money that will be raised from year to year. We pray and trust in God that the community will support us during this fundraising period.

Where does the money raised go to?

Not only does the Red Kettle campaign help fund the Angel Tree program, it also helps The Salvation Army fund its programs and services year round. Programs like The Salvation Army’s Client Choice Food Pantry, Emergency Shelter, Boys and Girls Club, and Disaster Services. Each and every penny given at the red kettle helps us meet the needs of families in Central Oklahoma. About 82 cents of every dollar goes to our programs and services.

How many volunteer bell ringers are there?

In 2014, we had 260 groups volunteer at the red kettle. We don’t register every individual so these groups could represent up to 1,000 individuals who gave of their time to ring the bell.

Anything else you would like our readers to know?

The Salvation Army would like to thank the community for their support through our 115 years here. We are so grateful and feel it is our privilege to serve families in need in Central Oklahoma.

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