On Monday, Senator Bob Duff was out braving the miserable weather in front of Norwalk's WalMart on Main Ave. to help raise money for the Salvation Army by donating his time as a bell ringer.
"It comes in waves, but I've seen a very good response from the community," said Duff, who's been volunteering with the Salvation Army for the past five years. "We've seen people giving whatever they could, from people giving pocket change to people putting $20s in the kettle. People have been very generous and all the money stays locally in this area."
Duff was joined by Charlotte Dufrane, Salvation Army Director of Social Services for the Greater Norwalk Area, and Capt. Diego J. Bedoya, Commanding Officer. Dufrane said the year has been a particularly difficult one for the organization.
"We're down by 20-percent compared to previous years' donations," Dufrane said. "A lot of people are hesitant to donate. They've learned to keep money close to their pockets because of an unreliable economy. We're certainly feeling it."
She noted people have been more generous with time, however, donating man hours where they don't have money. Having heart where the don't have money, she called it. Martin Soto, who's bell-ringing station Duff was visiting Monday, is a prime example of that.
"I volunteer at the Salvation Army every day [for five to six hours]," Soto said. "I'm currently looking for a job, it's been kind of rough. I take the opportunity to apply for jobs when I take breaks at the places I'm ringing bells. WalMart, Stop&Shop, wherever. But I love doing this. It brings happiness to me to know I'm helping. I've been doing it for about five years, myself."
The money raised through the bell-ringing operation each holiday season go to fund programs the Salvation Army operates throughout the year. 480 underprivileged children will receive toys this Christmas because of the Salvation Army and the donations it receives.