Salvation Army volunteers ring silent

HARRISBURG, Penn. (WHTM) -- Only Christmas music could be heard{}Friday above the ambient noise of chatter and clacking heels in Strawberry Square Mall in Harrisburg, Penn.

In the middle of the main lobby was the glistening, bright red Salvation Army bucket; a sight seen at shopping malls and on street corners across the country. However, the familiar ringing was muted by Joe Sobel and his silent partner: two volunteers who decided to ditch the bell and become a pair of "ding-dongs" for charity.

Both men were dressed in holiday red and green and holding cardboard signs; one reading "ding" and the other, of course, "dong." The signs were illuminated by a string of colored tree lights.

"Shoppers coming through, of course, would probably find [the bell ringing] entertaining," said Sobel, a volunteer with the Kiwanis Group of Harrisburg. "But the people who would have to hear it all day long would find it a little bit tiresome after a while."

Nicolas Duncan, who runs the nearby Susquehanna Comics store, said not hearing the bell this year is a welcome alternative.

Sobel said some people have complained about the bells in the past, and they feared the ringing would be magnified inside Strawberry Square given the acoustics of the shopping center.

After 20 minutes, people still dropped cash and coins into the bucket. Sobel believes silence is speaking volumes with donors.

"It's a real conversation piece," he said. "We just had someone come by and offer her bell for us to ring, so people do take note and people do find it entertaining."

The Salvation Army raises money throughout the holiday season to help provide funding for shelters.


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