Life, personal

My Experience As A Salvation Army Bell Ringer

salvation army bell ringer

So this year I decided to make some extra money by becoming a Bell Ringer for the Salvation Army. There are a lot of people that volunteer to do it, but you can also get paid minimum wage for doing it as well. It varies depending on the region you work in, but in my area, we worked 10-hour shifts or 5-hour shifts. If you worked a 10-hour shift you got an hour-long break but you could split it up however you liked. For instance, most people did two 30 minute breaks but I preferred to take four 15 minute breaks. If you work full time you get about 40 hours each week, but the job is seasonal and only lasts about 6 weeks.

What It’s Like To Be A Salvation Army Bell Ringer

Well, you have to be willing to stand outside in front of stores no matter how cold it is outside. So if you don’t wear layers you’re going to freeze to death. You are on your feet all day long. If you have fallen arches or “flat feet” you might not be able to do a job like this. Many people are on their feet all day (retail workers, nurses, etc.) but in a lot of cases, employees are also doing a lot of walking around. Being on your feet without being able to walk much is different. Blood tends to pool in your feet and legs because there aren’t any muscular contractions to help push it back towards your core. I tried walking around in place a little bit but it didn’t help much. I also bought some Dr. Scholl’s Custom Fit Orthotics (because I do have flat feet) but they didn’t help at all. (You can read my full review of them here.) I ended up sending them back for a refund.

Eventually, I bought a pair of $10 shoes at Walmart that have memory foam in them and they’re pretty comfortable. I also bought an anti-fatigue mat to stand on. So if you’re going to do a job like this, make sure you take good care of your feet.

The Customers

We were supposed to greet as many people as possible but we weren’t allowed to actually ask for donations. Most of the people I saw were really nice (whether they donated or not) but a few people were rude. One man came out of a store and I said hi to him because I didn’t see him go inside (I had just arrived for my shift a few minutes earlier) and he snapped at me. “You know no one has any change after they come out of there!” I was just like “Okay.”

Some people will (very obviously) avoid you. There were a few that were walking towards the store from the parking lot but they weren’t paying attention (they were usually looking at their phones) and then they looked up and saw me and then immediately veered off in another direction.

The Children

The best part of the job is seeing all the kids. Parents love to give money to their kids to put in the collection bucket. Some of the kids were pretty funny. One little boy kept trying to stick the money in his own pocket. Another one’s mother explained that we were collecting money for children that don’t have a lot of things. Without missing a beat he said “I don’t have a lot of things.” and she said, “Yes you do!” 🙂

Overall it was a pretty good experience. It’s a nice way to contribute to a good cause. Most of the time the money stays right in your local community. In my area, the Salvation Army runs a food pantry. In fact, several people that donated said the Salvation Army had helped them in times of need and they just wanted to give back a little.

Tips For Bell Ringing

Even if it isn’t that cold out, you should wear gloves. You have to ring the bell all day and if you don’t wear gloves you can get friction burns from the bell’s handle.

Wear plenty of layers. Remember, if you get too warm you can always take some off. You’re better safe than sorry. You don’t want to be stuck outside for hours and hours freezing your butt off.

Get some really good shoes. They need to be supportive but comfortable. Anti-fatigue mats help too.

My lips became chapped on my first day because it was so cold and windy. So I started wearing lip gloss to protect my lips. So I recommend doing that or getting some Chapstick.

When you ring the bell, hold your arm downward and just shake the bell from your wrist. If you try holding the bell out as you shake it you’ll get worn out fast.

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