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Silver Bells, Salvation Army and the Spirit of the Holiday

A note from Southington Community Services on how the bell ringers have aided thousands over the past century.


The following is a historical perspective on the importance of the Salvation Army Bell Ringers, written by Linda Mendelsohn with . If you are able, be sure to donate this holiday season.

A Salvation Army Captain in San Francisco had resolved in December of 1891 to provide a free Christmas dinner to the area's poor persons. But how would he pay for the food? Suddenly, his thoughts went back to his days as a sailor in Liverpool, England. On the Stage Landing he saw a large pot, called "Simpson's pot" into which charitable donations were thrown by passersbys.

He secured permission from the authorities to place a similar pot at the Oakland ferry landing, at the foot of Market Street. The pot was placed it in a conspicuous position, so that it could be seen by all those going to and from the ferry boats. Captain Joseph McFee launched a tradition that has spread not only throughout the United States, but throughout the world.

The song “Silver Bells” was inspired by the imagery of Salvation Army bell-ringers standing outside department stores during the Christmas season.

“Silver bells, silver bells, it’s Christmas time in the city. Ring-a-ling, hear them ring. Soon it will be Christmas Day.”

In the town of Southington, the mission of the Salvation Army is accomplished through the Southington Community Services Department.  This department provides emergency assistance to citizens in times of disaster as well as assisting those who are struggling in this poor economic climate.

Each year, all around town, volunteers “ring the bell” for the Salvation Army.  All money collected by these volunteers goes directly to Southington Community Services to fund the many programs offered to its clientele.

“This year, so many people are struggling to make ends meet. They come to us for assistance with a wide variety of needs and we do the best we can to help. However, in these hard times our donations are down,” stated Janet Mellon, Director. “Without the money to fund all our services, we may have to cut back on what we can afford to do.”

In an effort to increase donations, on Monday, Dec. 12, between Noon and 1 p.m., State Sen. Joe Markley and State Rep. Rob Sampson will ring the bell for the Southington Salvation Army at at . 

Walmart has agreed to match the dollar amount collected during this one-hour period. 

"We are hoping that this one hour of giving will help us raise the money we need. Our hope is that Southington residents will drop by during that hour to put a few dollars in the kettle. Thanks to Walmart, every dollar dropped in the kettle automatically becomes two. In the past, we have seen the way the Southington community responds to requests for donations of food and other items and we hope that they will once again respond to our need.”

If you are unable to come to Walmart during the one-hour of giving, you can still help. Donations may be made to Southington Salvation Army, 91 Norton Street, Plantsville, Connecticut  06479, during the holiday season and throughout the year.

To learn more about the various programs provided by , please contact Janet Mellon at (860) 628-3761.

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