Although national donations for the Salvation Army Red Kettle Drive have been reported as down this year, such is not the case in Edgecombe County.
"It looks like we will exceed our goal from last year," said Libby Todd, Nash/Edgecombe Salvation Army board member. "Our donations have been going up for the last three years."
Perhaps one of the reasons that Edgecombe's donations continue to rise is the volunteer bell ringers. In most cases, the volunteers appear to be ecstatic about their job. Penny Hoard, a volunteer, assists with coordinating bell ringers for Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday at Wal-Mart while the Golden K Kiwanis, which consist of men 62-years and older, man the kettles on Thursday, Friday and Saturday.
Lee Hall, 82, Golden K Kiwanis member, rings the bell three times a week. The retired Edgecombe County school superintendent appears to get just as much joy out of people donating as the children who will receive toys from the Red Kettle drive.
"This is something that I love to do," said Hall on Saturday while manning his post. "There's nothing like ringing this bell and watching people donate. I get a chance to see people I haven't seen in a while. Some of them are my former teachers and students."
Hall has been ringing the bell for 12 years. He said each year at least one donator does something that touches his heart. Hall shared an incident from the 2013 campaign when a man stood and watched him for about five minutes before making a distinctive donation.
"He was just watching me," Hall said. "Then he walked over and put $5 in the kettle. I told him, 'That's very generous of you,' the same words that I use when each time anyone put any amount of money in the kettle.
He said, 'No it's not.'
He reached his hand in his pocket and then put another $5 in the kettle. I said, "That is very generous of you.
"He said, ' No it's not.'
"He put $20 in the kettle. I said, 'I don't care what you say that is very generous.'
"He said 'No it's not.'
"He reached in his pocket and then put another $20 in the kettle. I didn't know how long we were going to keep this going. But that was truly very generous of him. People in Edgecombe County are very generous."
Donors such as the good Samaritan that Hall spoke about is perhaps one of the reasons why Edgecombe donations are not down.
A monetary goal was not set for Edgecombe's Red Kettle campaign, however, the local organizers' mission is to exceed the $19,000 raised last year, Todd said. With Thanksgiving falling later in the calendar this year meant five fewer days available to collect donations at the Wal-Mart location. The Piggly Wiggly location, which began its campaign one day before Thanksgiving, played a vital role in the drive. The last day for the drive is Dec. 24.
"We would like to reach the $20,000 mark," Todd said. "We ask that you to continue to give to help the less fortunate. That's the spirit of Christmas."