Bringing Bell Ringing to a New Generation

Nov 18, 2019

Bradley Davidson’s relationship with The Salvation Army began when he was a 6-year-old Boy Scout in Milwaukee in need of a volunteering badge. His dad, one of his pack’s leaders, researched different volunteer opportunities for Bradley and his fellow scouts.

When his dad learned how much of the money the Army raises goes toward programming, roughly 87 cents of every dollar, he was impressed. Milwaukee got a new crop of bell-ringers that year. And the Army got a life-long volunteer – other than a brief break in college, Bradley, now 36 and living in Chicago, has been bell-ringing with The Salvation Army ever since.

With his young start, it was only natural that Bradley was intrigued when he learned about the Army’s Echelon group, which raises awareness and support for the Army among younger generations. He joined the group five years ago and recently served as its co-president.

One of the things he enjoys most about his involvement with Echelon is introducing his peers to the breadth of The Salvation Army’s work. “They see the kettles at Christmas and know that money goes to help feed the homeless, but are not aware of the rest,” he said.

Even new Echelon members are taken aback when the group volunteers with the Army’s Harbor Light facility, which houses a community center, an inpatient substance use disorder treatment program, and a federal halfway house – all supported by money from the red kettles. “They are completely surprised by all that,” Bradley said.

As he continues his 30-year relationship with the Army, Bradley says he is most impressed by how selfless the officers are. “They’re extremely humble. They don’t look for any credit, they just want to help.”

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