The Stories Behind the Bell Ringers

Roanoke, VA - Every holiday season, the unmistakable sound of the Salvation Army Kettle Drive can be heard in parking lots across the country.

The story that many may not notice, however, might actually be the stories of the ringers themselves.

Up until five years ago, Josephine Keller was one of Craig County's top teachers, a work ethic that continues into retirement, especially during the holiday when the needy need her most.

"This is a way for me to help the community. Give it back to them," Keller said.

Keller's no normal bell ringer. She is the number one bell ringer because wherever she goes she manages to always collect the most money.

"Just be friendly and social and smile. And ask how they are doing," Keller said.

"Ms. Josephine has helped us raise more than $13,000 by herself. It just shows what one person can do when they really want to make a difference," said Captain Ken Argot with the Roanoke Salvation Army.

If they could add up Mary Jordan's efforts, she might actually pull in more donations and that's because she's the only bell ringer in the valley that does this year around.

Jordan also says the key to success in the bell ringing business is to engage the people you are asking help of.

"I just smile and greet people and talk to them and they give me money," Jordan said.

Disabled and nowhere to turn, the Salvation Army gave this to her as a minimum wage job 21-years ago.

"It makes me want to give to somebody," Jordan said.

It's a gesture she has not forgotten which helps push her to help others also in need.

The bad news is that at least in the Roanoke area, donations are below set goals.

It's something to think about that when you pass one of the ringers Christmas Eve.