A Salvation Army bell ringer once homeless, paying it forward
It's the sound of the season, the ringing of the bells outside businesses all over the Tennessee Valley.
Friday is the official kickoff for the Salvation Army's Christmas Campaign in Chattanooga.
You'll see volunteers ringing bells while standing next to a red kettle. For one bell ringer, it's a sound that means much more.
Lt. James Harvin leads a team of bell ringers. He does it to give back to the community and a fundraiser that helped his family.
"My father and I became homeless, and the Salvation Army was always there for us with a hot meal or ministering to us," Harvin said.
It was money dropped into these buckets that helped him get off the streets and into a career of serving others.
"With donors like them, they not only gave me an opportunity not only to go to band camp but gave me experiences I wouldn't have had as a disenfranchised child," he explained.
Now, he is a Lieutenant with the Salvation Army and a pastor. The Salvation Army hopes this year's fundraiser can give others the same chance to get back on their feet.
"Nobody should ever feel they are less than or simply a label, but they should all feel worth and feel like a human being," Harvin said.
They have a lofty goal of $425,000 to support year-round programs.
"Children ministries, adult ministries, homeless ministries, that's where your dollar goes," he explained.
Harvin is also an Angel Tree recipient. Someone he never met made sure he had a Christmas, and it's that kindness he hopes to pay forward.
"The Salvation Army was actually a lynchpin in my life actually. They got me on my feet, helped me through school and encouraged me through it all," he said.
This year, some red kettle locations will have card readers for people who don't carry cash.
Angel trees are located at Hamilton Place, Northgate and Bradley Square Malls. All you have to do is pick up a tag and drop off your donation at the Salvation Army tables.
If you would like to volunteer, visit www.csarmy.org.