You’ve seen bell ringers on corners and at stores across the mid-Michigan area this holiday season, but you’ve probably never met one quite like Mark Mitchell.
Mitchell has been ringing bells and collecting donations with the Salvation Army for 10-years and tonight.. he’s giving back to a community that once gave to him.
“I remember being a kid sometimes the only time we would get lights on in our house or we would have shoes or coats or stuff like that, you know whatever the struggle would be from those little kettles. A salvation army guy would show up and he’d help my mom out. I try to come back and give back to them because I know what it’s like to be on the other side of the fence,” says Mitchell.
Mitchell says the money stuffed into these same red kettles years ago, changed his life for the better.
So now he’s returning the favor by ringing a bell, hoping to pay it forward.
“When I see kids putting money in the kettle. I try to explain to them how powerful of thing that they’re doing by putting that 50 cents, a dollar in. People say ‘well I don’t have a lot of money I all I have is a dollar all I have are a few pieces of change’, well that little piece of change that you’re going to put in that kettle is going to be exactly the amount needed for the person who’s going to receive it. You have to always remember somebody needs those pennies,” says Mitchell.
This year, the Lansing Capital Area Salvation Army’s goal is to raise $206,000 to provide hot meals and a place to sleep for those in need.
But as of a few days ago, Major Jim Irvine says the organization is still about $74,000 short.. which means it may have to cut back on some services and staff members.
“The money that we raise now is absolutely critical, not to the success of the Salvation Army, it’s critical to the success of families and individuals that we’re helping,” says Irvine.
Major Irvine says every dollar helps, whether big or small.
“The people we help are people like Mark who are able to get their lives turned around. That’s why we’re out here,” says Irvine.
He says the red kettle isn’t just a donation box, it’s a symbol of a community coming together and giving back to those who need them most.
To donate to the Salvation Army, visit it’s website.