Second-generation bell ringer honors his father
You probably know the iconic red buckets and the jolly sounds of the bells. However, do you know the ones that brave the elements to help our neighbors?
The Red Kettle Campaign is one of the longest-running and most recognizable fundraising efforts in the world. You probably know the iconic red buckets and the jolly sounds of the bells. However, do you know the ones that brave the elements to help our neighbors?
If you stop by Hamilton place mall this season, a special helper might greet you. Curtis Baggett is a Salvation Army Bell Ringer. He’s handed out warm smiles and collected donations for 35 years.
Every year, approximately 25,000 bell ringers, young and old, help The Salvation Army raise money for local community programs. Year after year, mystery donations are dropped into the Red Kettles ranging from gold coins and diamonds to large cash donations and even wedding rings.
Baggett never complains about the cold or asks for very much.
"It’s not the amount as much as it is the heart,” Baggett said. Just a man with a bell and a red kettle.
The Salvation Army is in need of the giving spirit. For a second year, the Salvation Army's annual Red Kettle fundraiser is struggling to meet its goal. It's a trend being felt across the country.
Kimberly George at the Chattanooga Salvation Army says the Red Kettle money is $15,000 behind last year.
Donations are important because the organization provides many services for the community.
George says they will ring one day less because Christmas Eve is on a Sunday this year and the bell ringers will not be out.
It’s why Baggett is joining other bell ringers to make a big push this weekend to get more people to give. He said, it’s something his father taught him and his siblings since they were young.
"My father started the process years ago in Knoxville he organized the Kiwanis Club to ring the bells and he set an example for me, my brother and my sister,” he said.
Allie Baggett, Curtis' father. passed away several years ago. He too was a bell ringer for more 40 years. He handed down an antique bell that's more than 50 years old.
"I decided I wanted a way to give and give back and follow his model and his example,” Baggett said. Now he hopes to teach his kids and others that there’s more blessings to give than to receive.
"I think we're teaching people how to be philanthropic, how to be givers, and the joy of giving,” he said. Volunteering his time is something he knows he can always give.
"Oh as long as I can I hope I can do it until the day I die,” he exclaimed.
Today, Curtis’s dad, Allie Bagget, would have been 110 years old.
The Red Kettles are still out and will be until Dec. 23, but the campaign runs until the first or second week of January.
Donors can still give by mail or online after the kettles are gone.
To learn more about being a bell ringer visit The Salvation Army’s website.