LAKELAND, Fla. (FOX 13) - The ring-a-linging outside stores and at shopping centers is not as loud this year as it has been in the past. There is a national shortage of Salvation Army bell ringers, including right here in Tampa Bay.
We caught up with Ronnie Soule outside the Walmart on State Road 60 in Bartow. He has been ringing for the Army for about three decades and gets paid about $9 an hour. Other ringers are volunteers.
“I love doing it because there is a lot of people in need,” Soule told FOX as he continued to ring his bell.
The man who oversees the Greater Lakeland Salvation Army, Major Barry Corbitt, says Lakeland could use more manpower, but not nearly as much as Tampa Bay.
There are about 500 bell ringer spots in Tampa Bay. Nearly half of them are not filled right now.
Apparently, the paid ringers are finding employment elsewhere this season. That should not be too hard because the economy is doing well.
“With a shortage of workers, of course there may be a little bit of a downturn in income,” said Corbitt. “But hopefully that won’t happen. We’ll see.”
If you have an interest in becoming a bell ringer, contact your local Salvation Army chapter.