Season for giving

Janine Summerville, of Clovis, takes donations for the Salvation Army outside Albertsons on Tuesday. (CNJ staff photo: Andy DeLisle)

By Tonya Fennell: CNJ staff writer

The ring-a-ling of bells can be heard at stores throughout the area. The sounds aren’t a sign of Santa’s imminent arrival, but instead a Salvation Army Red Kettle campaign is off to a ringing start.

With a huge smile on her face and bell in hand, Janine Summerville stood sentinel Tuesday over a red donation kettle.

The 47-year-old Clovis resident is one of many Salvation Army employees who serve as bell ringers. Bundled up against the chilly wind, Summerville warmly greeted shoppers from her station outside Albertsons Supermarket. Friendly and talkative, Summerville works from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily soliciting donations for the non-profit organization.

“This is what I love to do,” she said, “because I know it is better to give than receive.”

The Red Kettles and bell ringers are the most visible community-wide Salvation Army program. And according to Capt. Tammy Ray, the results from the nickels, dimes and dollars put into the kettles provides food, clothes, medicine and gifts to needy families during Thanksgiving and Christmas.

“All the funds are kept local,” Ray said, “and used for prescriptions, utilities, rent and transportation as well.”

Although Summerville is paid for her time as a bell ringer, she said she considers it a hobby.

“I like crocheting, long walks and animals,” she said, “but this (bell ringer) is my favorite.”

Summerville said her favorite aspect of the bell ringing position is knowing the good it does for people.

“This (kettle donations) is for God’s little angels that won’t have food or presents on Christmas,” she said.

Although many passed by without donating, Summerville remained upbeat.

“It’s hit or miss,” she said, “but people really start giving closer to Christmas.” And as one giving shopper paused to place two crumpled dollar bills inside the kettle, Summerville’s ever-present smile widened.

“God bless you and thank you,” she said.