Homeless bell ringer spreads holiday cheer

    Homeless bell ringer spreads holiday cheer (WCIV)

    Consider Lisa Maria Towne a Christmas angel.

    “I love saying Merry Christmas," the Salvation Army Bell Ringer said. She’s one of about 100 bell ringers the Salvation Army pays during the holiday season.

    “It is a seasonal job,” Towne said. “It’s a message from God to everyone that you are loved and you can be cared for.”

    This year, Towne needs an angel of her own.

    “I have been homeless for a little over a year,” she said, fighting back tears. She’s thankful for the opportunity to earn some extra money this season by ringing the bell.

    “I know they’ll be other things coming out of this just from what the people have done and what has been contributed for others that are in need. It makes you want to cry.”

    Captain Jason Burns with the Salvation Army confirms passersby have contributed around $10,000 to Towne’s bucket alone in her 22 days ringing.

    “If I can help one then I can help everybody,” she said.

    Up to 40 people are out ringing at stores across the Lowcountry from 10:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. during the holiday season, according to Captain Burns. Shoppers can spot ringers from the day before Thanksgiving until Christmas Eve.

    “The most rewarding experience other than being a mom and a grandma I’ve ever had in my life,” Towne said. “I’ve watched tears go into the bucket with that one penny with just a tiny hope that not only would it help them but help others as well.”

    That’s help Towne will continue to seek, even as she continues to ring.

    “If one person could just ring a bell and see what happens. It is kind of magical.

    Lowcountry bell ringers have a goal to raise $250,000. Shoppers had donated nearly $200,000 as of 9 a.m. Monday, December 17th.

    Head here to volunteer as a bell ringer with the Salvation Army.

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