Lightbulb moment prompts father to ring bells with son

Dec 9, 2021

Over the summer, Paul Heidecker held a garage sale at his home in Elk River, Minn., and donated all the unsold goods to the local Salvation Army Store.

While he was dropping off the items at the store, he had a lightbulb moment when he saw the red shield of The Salvation Army. 

“I remembered ringing bells with my mom inside a mall when I was probably 6 years old,” said Paul, who grew up in Austin, Minn. “That memory got the wheels turning.”

The memory resurfaced when the Red Kettle season began in November, prompting Paul to sign up to ring for two shifts in December outside the Cub grocery store in Elk River.

Paul’s first shift took place last week, and he was thrilled to bring his 4-year-old son. Their time together at the kettle couldn’t have gone better.  

“My son did great,” Paul said. “He was the secret weapon – people were donating left and right when they saw a little kid ringing the bell.”

Paul was proud to demonstrate to his son the value of helping others, just like his mom had showed him so many years ago. Paul and his son’s experience at the kettle marks the beginning of a new tradition that Paul hopes his son will pass on to his own children someday. 

“It was good to show my son how to give back to the community and do something good for people less fortunate – especially around the holidays,” Paul said. 

Ring in a new tradition

This Christmas season, you too can start a tradition of ringing bells for The Salvation Army. With just two weeks remaining in the Red Kettle season and hundreds of kettle locations throughout Minnesota and North Dakota, you’re sure to find a convenient time and place to ring. Sign up now.

Your time at a kettle will raise money to provide food, shelter and care for people in need. Just two hours at a kettle typically raises about $60 – enough money for The Salvation Army to provide a hot meal and one night of shelter for a person experiencing homelessness. 

You can do something good this holiday season by donating to The Salvation Army, volunteering, or ringing bells at a Red Kettle. Your help will provide food, shelter and care for local families in need. Because of you, Hope Marches On. 

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