Bell Ringing FAQ's

Oct 13, 2021


The Salvation Army Bell Ringing Questions 


Interested in bell ringing with The Salvation Army? We would be honored and grateful to have you donate your time with us! Bell ringing is an essential part of our Red Kettle Campaign and each bell ringer plays a crucial role in helping us raise funds that are used to provide critical year-round services to our neighbors and families in need. Due to the ongoing pandemic, we anticipate the requests for our services this holiday season will be at an elevated level. We are committed to being a source of help and hope to all who seek us. The Salvation Army remains on the frontlines of need to ensure Hope Marches On this holiday season

We appreciate your support!


How do I sign up?

Signing up to ring is a breeze! Visit, select if you’ll be ringing as an individual or as a group, select your date, city and store location, choose the time slot(s) you want, and you’re all set. You will receive a confirmation email shortly after you register to verify the details and provide you with further instructions.


I want to ring with another person or group of people, how can we sign up together?

The more the merrier! Start a new holiday tradition with your family, group, or organization.

If you are the leader of a group (such as a church, service club, business, or school) that intends on bell ringing at multiple locations and or multiple times, when you visit, there is an option to select “I’m ringing with a group.”

If you want to ring together as a family or friend group, only one person needs to officially register and then the rest of your family/friends are welcome to join you. Feel free to let us know there will be more than one of you in the comments section of when you register.


Are there age requirements?

All ages are welcome. Children under a certain age must be accompanied by a parent or guardian – check with your local Salvation Army for more details.


How long is a typical shift?

Shifts start at a minimum of two hours. You are always welcome to sign up and ring for more than that if you’d like. Two hours really goes by fast, especially if you have someone to ring with you. Please make sure you’re able to fulfill whatever length of time at the kettle you reserve.


What do I do when I arrive for my shift?

Check your email! Before your shift, you will be provided via email with a video explaining what to do when you arrive.

If you are there for the first shift of the day, there will either be a Salvation Army employee there to meet you and get you started, OR someone will have already dropped everything off. If it’s the latter case, simply pick up the bell and start spreading holiday cheer.

If you are not the first shift of the day and you are replacing someone, kindly let them know you’re there and they should be able to give you any necessary updates before you start.


What exactly do I do when I’m ringing?

That part is up to you! Some people like to sing Christmas carols while they ring.

However you ring, we ask that you please follow these simple guidelines:

  • Follow any instructions from the store manager and be respectful of the store. Remember, you are a guest of theirs!
  • Greet everyone as they come and go – “hi/bye,” “Merry Christmas,” “Happy Holidays,” or “have a great day.”
  • Nod or wave and make eye contact with everyone.
  • Say “thank you” or “God bless” to everyone who gives, no matter how much.
  • Stay near the kettle but maintain six feet of social distance from others.
  • Refrain from physical contact with donors and donations at the kettle.
  • Make sure the kettle is near the customer door but at a safe distance.
  • Wear a mask (and gloves) if required and clean, weather-appropriate clothing.
  • Clean the top of the kettle prior to use as needed.
  • No arguing or debating, refer all issues to your corps officer.


What should I wear?

Unless otherwise noted, plan to be standing outside for the duration of your shift. We suggest comfortable shoes and lots of layers. Santa hats or other festive holiday-themed apparel are encouraged. Very rarely does bell ringing get cancelled due to weather, but in the case of extreme circumstances, please call the number listed next to each location on your schedule.


Do I need to wear a mask?

You will need to follow all local and store guidelines. Even if the local or store guidelines do not stipulate mask wearing, you are welcome to wear one.


The money I’m helping to raise, where does it go?

The Salvation Army provides essential year-round programs and services to those who need it most. This includes food assistance, energy bill and rent assistance, housing resources, and impactful programs for children and seniors. This also includes support for those struggling with substance use disorder and Pathway of Hope, a free case management program that helps families in need reach their goals and become more self-sufficient. The Salvation Army also offers additional help at Christmastime, providing new toys to children and financial gifts to families.


I thought people didn’t carry cash anymore so why are bell ringers still needed?

This is a question we get often, and while everyone might not be carrying cash like the good old days, there are still plenty of folks heading out shopping that have cash on hand. In order to reach individuals that want to donate but might not have cash on them at the moment, every kettle is enabled with Kettle Pay. This permits donors to scan a code and then use Apple Pay, Google Pay, Venmo or PayPal technology to make an online donation. Did you know that individuals are much more likely to donate to a manned kettle versus an unmanned kettle?


I’m concerned about people getting too close to me while I’m ringing. What about social distancing?

After registering, your confirmation email will include a mandatory video to view that provides you with more information on how to safely perform your duties and engage with the public in a COVID-19 environment.


I need community service hours. Does bell ringing count?

Yes! If you would like to schedule community service hours, indicate this in the comments section when you select your shift.


I am unable to ring in-person this year. How can I still help?

We appreciate you wanting to help! Individuals or groups can sign up to be a virtual bell ringer and raise funds in an online peer-to-peer format. Visit your local corps website for a link to set up a virtual kettle.


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