What's it take to stand on a corner and ring a bell for eight hours in the middle of Manhattan?

By Alex Heigl
Updated December 25, 2013 01:10 PM
Credit: Tiffany Hagler-Geard/People

Salvation Army bell ringers are a fairly common sight this time of year, but just who exactly stands in the middle of Manhattan in December and rings a bell for eight hours?

Most Salvation Army Bell Ringers are “cadets” – seminarians preparing to become ministers in the Salvation Army. Others are volunteers.

Everyone featured below is a cadet in training, with the exception of Marcy, who is a volunteer.

Melanie, 21

“I love the smiles I get and being able to spread holiday cheer.”

Larissa, 19

“I’ve been in the Salvation Army my whole life … I was kind of nervous about coming in and being in the city and all these people, but it’s just incredible to see how many people you can touch each day and see the Christmas spirit go around.”

Felix, 25

“We realized that when we dance, act a little goofy at the kettle stand, people are more receptive … in an average day, we quadruple what we get. The more money we get, the more people we can help.”


“I was walking home from my church – Chambers Memorial Baptist Church – and I saw a sign that said the Salvation Army needed ringers. I’ve been doing this ever since.”


“I know that every dollar that goes in this bucket is going to go to changing someone’s life. That’s the most amazing part of doing this.”


“I actually used to work as a social worker for the Salvation Army, so I know that the money does go back to the community.”

Marco, 22

“To know that I’m out here dancing and bringing joy to others just makes it all worthwhile.”

Ivan, 25

“We get to connect the [people who] help with the people who need help.”

Katie, 25

“There’s a lot of people who need helping in New York, and we also get to put smiles on people’s faces with our dancing – that’s what I love about doing this.”

Alini, 33

“I like to sing ‘All I Want For Christmas Is You’ to people, because it makes them feel special.”

Fact: There are 38 cadets from the College for Officer Training ringing bells on NYC streets this time of year.

Fact: There are over 250 kettle donation sites throughout the Greater New York area.

A very NYC-appropriate image: A Salvation Army bell ringer and a Hello Kitty mascot.

If you’re interested in volunteering for the Salvation Army, click here.

Like us on Facebook for more stories like this!