The Salvation Army recently recognized the efforts of Stone County, “Bell Ringers,” during last Christmas’s annual Red Kettle Campaign.
Of the approximately 350 red kettles in Harrison, Hancock, Jackson, George and Stone counties, the one at the Wiggins Walmart raised more money than all the others.
The Rev. Ray Stokes accepted the award on behalf of all the bell ringers who spent two hour shifts soliciting donations.
“A lot of these places have a hard time getting bell ringers,” Stokes said. “It’s fortunate that, in Stone County, we had more than 100 people willing to give of their time and man the kettle in two-hour shifts.”
For many, ringing the bell has become a family tradition.
Paul Hardy, his wife Cassie, their children Alec and Lyndzie and Cassie’s mother, Kathy Gordon are an example.
“We’ve done it for several years,” Paul Hardy said. “It’s something we enjoy doing and it’s a good opportunity to raise money for those in need.
“Our kids really enjoy it as a time to spend with their grandmother giving something back to the community.”
This season, between Black Friday and Christmas Eve, the Stone County kettle took in more than $12,000.
“To know Stone County is not a rich county makes it all that much more impressive,” Stoke said. “Those who look like they have nothing to give, give the most.
“I personally commend the management of Walmart and the employees for their commitment to making sure the Red Kettle has a place to be prominently displayed and cared for.”