By CLINT FOSTER
At the end of Frank Capra’s classic film, “It’s a Wonderful Life,” George Bailey stands surrounded by friends and family who have poured out their love and appreciation by giving selflessly to him in his time of greatest need.
During joyous singing, the family spies a bell on their Christmas tree beginning to ring.
The littlest Bailey, Zuzu, cries out to her father, “Look, Daddy! Teacher says, ‘Every time a bell rings, an angel gets his wings.’”
It’s one of the most memorable moments in film history, and this Christmas season could be your opportunity to be someone’s guardian angel right here in Palo Pinto County.
The local extension of the Salvation Army officially opened it’s local red kettle drive Tuesday afternoon, when Mayor Mike Allen ceremoniously rang a Salvation Army bell alongside Mineral Wells Center of Life Director Randy Lawrence in front of the old CASA building on NW 2nd Street.
Just as much of a staple of Christmastime as Nativity scenes and Santa Claus, volunteers will ring bells in front of these red donation kettles at sites like the local Wal-Mart and Metro as part of the Salvation Army’s largest annual fundraiser.
According to Mineral Wells and Palo Pinto County Salvation Army Service Extension Advisory Council President Ray Mays, 100 percent of the money donated in the eight kettles around Mineral Wells and the rest of the county will stay in and help the local community.
“The Salvation Army helps literally hundreds of families every year,” Mays said. “What’s important about the kettle drive is that every penny that is put into a red kettle stays here in Mineral Wells and goes directly to help the people in need here in our own community.”
The Salvation Army is an International movement based on the Bible and motivated by the love of God and love for people.
Its mission is to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and to meet human need in His name without discrimination.
The purpose of the Salvation Army is to raise funds and provide emergency assistance for people in a crisis situation in their local community.
In concert with the Mineral Wells Center of Life, the local Salvation Army extension depends exclusively on volunteers as bell ringers to ensure the maximum amount of donations can stay in the county to help those in need.
Mays said this requires 300 man hours in Mineral Wells alone.
Last year, the Salvation Army served 754 people in Palo Pinto County with $30,267.17 in donated money.
The people received services including utility assistance, transportation, medical aid, vision aid, dental aid, summer camp for at-risk kids, temporary lodging, prescriptions and even Graduate Equivalency Diploma study materials and testing.
Of that $30 thousand, $19,619.12 was generated through the local kettle drive alone.
“It’s important to support charities, especially one like this that does so much at Christmas,” Mayor Allen said with his Santa hat on and bell in hand.
Mays said this year, the Salvation Army is running “critically low on funding” so donations during this Christmas season are at a premium.
In addition to kettle donations, locals can mail donations to P.O. Box 861.
He added they are also in need of more volunteer bell ringers.
To help fill this need, businesses and organizations can “adopt” a kettle for a day, thereby pulling volunteers internally to work the kettles and collect donations.
It’s just one way of helping out the Salvation Army’s cause.
For more information on how to volunteer, reserve a time slot, or make a donation, please call (940) 445-7160.