Bell ringer profile: Firefighters raise sizzling amounts of money at Red Kettles

Dec 1, 2023

The Salvation Army thinks firefighters are awesome people, for two main reasons: 1. Their selfless service to the community. 2. They raise sizzling amounts of money at the Red Kettles. 

Firefighters have been ringing bells for The Salvation Army Northern Division for decades. Whenever they volunteer at our kettles, they typically raise three times more money per hour than any other volunteer group.

They ring throughout the Christmas season – including last Monday, when a dozen firefighters came to U.S. Bank Stadium (pictured right) to ring bells before the Minnesota Vikings played the Chicago Bears on Monday Night Football. 

Among those firefighters was Dave Eisinger (pictured below) from the West Suburban Fire District, which serves western Hennepin County. Ringing bells is his way of giving back to The Salvation Army for all the times our disaster teams served food to him and his crew while they battle blazes. 

“It’s unbelievable when The Salvation Army comes out to support us,” Dave said. “A hot dog and hot chocolate tastes pretty good when it’s freezing-cold outside. One time, they even brought a warming tent.” 

Dave was recruited to ring by firefighter Mark Dreyer, who has volunteered at the kettles for hundreds of hours over the years. He typically rings four to eight times per Christmas season.

Mark enjoys ringing because “you see the good (The Salvation Army) is doing and you meet wonderful people,” he said. “They’re giving out clothing and food, and getting people off the streets. It’s inspiring.” (Read more about Mark.)

At special events, firefighters sometimes collect donations in black firefighter boots instead of kettles (pictured). This often happens when they ring at Grand Meander, an annual holiday shopping event along Grand Ave. in St. Paul. Firefighters are scheduled to ring bells at this year’s Grand Meander event on Saturday, Dec. 2.  

“One time my boot was overflowing – I almost had to take off my own boot to replace it,” said Bob Kipples, a retired firefighter from the St. Paul Fire Department who spent about 20 years ringing bells and recruiting his colleagues to join him. 

Over the years, Bob has witnessed many inspiring sights while ringing the bell.

“When I used to ring at Lunds & Byerlys in Highland Park, the kids who helped carry groceries to people’s cars – the kids who earned next to nothing – would donate their tip money,” he recalled. “Other times, I’d be ringing in downtown St. Paul, and homeless people would donate money they’d earned from panhandling.”

The Salvation Army Northern Division thanks firefighters for their service and for helping us raise money in Minnesota and North Dakota.

“We are honored to partner with firefighters as we serve the needs of our communities,” said Lt. Col. Randall Polsley, leader of The Salvation Army Northern Division. 

Sign up to ring bells

Registration is open for the 2023 bell ringing season. 

Bell ringing is a fun and easy way to make a big difference, with hundreds of Red Kettle locations throughout the Twin Cities, Greater Minnesota and North Dakota. Raise even more money by recruiting your friends, family and coworkers to join.

Thousands of volunteer bell ringers are needed. Sign up now and help The Salvation Army provide life-changing support for people and families in need.

This holiday season, The Salvation Army is calling on all of our supporters to Love Beyond. #LoveBeyond is a national Salvation Army campaign that encourages people to put love above all else, in order to show families in need that love exists beyond their most difficult situations – be it hunger, overdue bills, eviction, addiction, and other hardships. Join us by giving a donationsigning up to volunteer, or ringing bells at a Red Kettle.

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