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Ringing the Salvation Army bell makes the holidays bright

Judy Duke, president of the Salvation Army of La Plata County, rings the Salvation Army bell with her granddaughter Emma Duke, 12, in 2015 at south City Market. Emma is the daughter of Christy and Jim Duke.

By Ann Butler

Neighbors Columnist

One of my favorite activities during the holidays is ringing the Salvation Army bell. My rule is to keep ringing the bell and wish everyone who walks by a “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Holidays.”

It’s a great way to burst stereotypes, something the country can use more of right now. I’ve had a heavily tattooed and pierced young woman walk up and empty her pockets into the kettle, and a homeless man put in 75 cents in gratitude for the help he has received. Watching parents help little ones put the money in the slot, and their delight when I let them ring the bell, is so sweet. In some ways, those donations mean more than those of us who just drop in $1 as we walk by.

And then, of course, there’s scoring the south City Market spot on Christmas Eve, when the kettle comes close to overflowing, and a few late Santas drop in $100 bills and gold coins. That is an exciting time.

It’s a reminder every year of what the season is really about and how we take care of each other in this community.

The organization needs bell-ringers for two-hour slots from now through Christmas Eve. Kettle sites include north and south City Market, Walmart, and Star Liquors as well as a site in Bayfield. The bell-ringing coordinator this year is Jim Bolen, and his phone number is 259-1506.

Money raised remains here in the community, with a large portion going to the Community Emergency Assistance Coalition. The coalition helps people with one-time expenses, including car repairs, overdue rent after an illness, dental work and bus vouchers.

New this year, the Salvation Army is helping people who get out of jail to re-enter the community, with Chaplain Blake getting them hotel rooms, bus tickets and other assistance. The organization is also giving Durango Community Recreation Center passes to families at the Southwest Safehouse, and they are a big hit, allowing traumatized women and children to have some fun and exercise. The passes are also going to La Plata Youth Services, to provide a safe place and shower for juveniles who may be couch surfing.

Give Bolen a call today. Ringing the bell makes a real difference in people’s lives, and you get to see all kinds of old friends and new acquaintances.


Check back at durangoherald.com for more Neighbors stories and photos. Click on the word “Neighbors” to make sure you haven’t missed any stories. Neighbors runs in the Sunday print edition of The Durango Herald.

Here’s how to reach me: neighbors@durangoherald.com; phone 375-4584; mail items to the Herald; or drop them off at the front desk. Please include contact names and phone numbers for all items. Follow me on Twitter @Ann_Neighbors.

I am happy to consider photos for Neighbors, but they must be high-quality, high-resolution photos (at least 1 MB of memory) and include no more than three to five people. I need to know who’s who, left to right, and who to credit with the photo. Candid photos are better than posed, and photos should be submitted as JPG or TIF attachments.

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