It would be hard to imagine a Salvation Army Red Kettle stand without a bellringer. For more than a century, the familiar ting-a-ling of a handheld bell has been one of the sounds of the Christmas season.
In 1901 seventeen-year-old Probationary Lieutenant Amelia Emma Kunkle, a native of Johnstown, PA, was serving an appointment at the New York Bowery Corps. She wanted to attract the attention of passersby as she staffed her assigned kettle stand. “A supervisor suggested that I bang on the kettle with a stick, but that didn’t work very well. So, I suggested a little bell to ring.” She recalled in her later years. Amelia’s idea to use a simple handheld bell was just the right cheery sound to be heard on crowded street corners.
In addition to the familiar sound of a handbell, some kettle bellringers seek to entertain and bring joy to passersby. Playing brass instruments or singing are popular ways to bring joy to others.
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