Nov 3, 2022

In Elkville, Illinois, The Salvation Army has a longtime supporter in Henry Stockton.

Stockton has been ringing bells for 25 years at the red kettle, collecting donations at different locations, since he retired at 48, from muscular dystrophy.

“[The thrift store] was needing bellringers, so I volunteered and went up there,” Stockton said. “It turned into what it is today, kind of a permanent thing. I enjoy every minute of it. My wife enjoys that I do it because I get out of her hair, and I get out of the house.”

Stockton stopped by The Salvation Army’s Divisional Headquarters in St. Louis on Halloween to receive a Certificate of Appreciation for his work from Divisional Commander Lt. Col. Bob A. Webster.

The veteran bellringer met staff from different departments around the building and bumped into Tree of Lights Co-Chair Rick Horton, Cardinals broadcaster and former pitcher. The two joked about a Stockton family relationship with former pitcher Keith Hernandez.

“My grandpa had an old saying that a penny makes the world go around,” Stockton said. “I feel like that’s what the Salvation Army does is, with pennies. I just wish I could get more money for them to operate on a yearly basis. They’ve been nothing but wonderful people to me through the years. I just wished I could remember all of the names of the captains and majors I have dealt with. Every one of them has been wonderful people.”

Stockton said of his bellringing experience, “I get to make noise and attract attention. People can’t complain about it. They appreciate [me] trying to catch shoplifters now and then. The homeless people that stand there and bum, I carry snacks in my cooler to work and let them have something, without running the customers off. They treat me like one of their employees.”

The donations raised from red kettles in the Elkville area stay there. Money raised by The Salvation Army stays in the communities in which it is donated.

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