Salvation Army Kicks Off Bell Ringing Season for the Holidays - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Salvation Army Kicks Off Bell Ringing Season for the Holidays

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YAKIMA, WA. -- Thanksgiving is less than a week away but many Americans are already thinking about the upcoming holiday season. One popular holiday tradition officially returned today.

It's cold Friday and we better get used to it as the end of the year gets closer. The Salvation Army kicked off the bell ringing season this morning but why do these volunteers brave the elements during the holidays just to ring a bell?

The Salvation Army is officially ringing in the holiday season. People may complain that Christmas keeps starting earlier and earlier but to one bell ringer, it can't come fast enough.

"To me it's the most important time of the year," bell ringer Jack Smith said.

Jack Smith has been volunteering for 25-years.

"Bell ringing is part of what I do," Jack said.

He's brought his chime to Alaska, Colorado, Oregon, California and now back to Yakima, Washington, just a short trip away from his childhood home in Granger.

"I saw need and I saw a way to help supply the need to those that were in need," Jack said.

A small group gathered today to kick off the bell ringing season. Marley the bell ringing horse got the year started.

"My husband is a Salvation Army bell ringer and we just kind of put the two together and thought bell ringing with him and Marley would be kind of cute and maybe we'd bring in some more money," Marley's owner Glenda Bansmer said.

It may have been a small ceremony but its for a big cause. The Yakima County Salvation Army raised over $90,000 last year. This year, $100,000 is the goal. But for bell ringers like Jack, its not about the money.

"Its one of the greatest feelings that you can have knowing that you've given back to your community and just bring good cheer to the folks that need it most," he said.

There are 28 bell-ringing locations in Yakima. The Tri-Cities Salvation Army started Friday as well and will be ringing in 25 places hoping to raise over $150,000.