Delivering the day’s message with no clashing bells: Capt. Richmond works to make a difference

Published 6:23 am Wednesday, November 28, 2018

The Salvation Army’s red kettles and bell ringers are a part of the holiday season every year in cities and town across America. And in the Salvation Army’s service area of Boyle, Casey, Lincoln, Garrard and Mercer counties, every bellringer is a volunteer — which is not the case in most areas, said Capt. Patrick Richmond of Danville’s Salvation Army. “It’s amazing.”

On Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, Capt. Richmond checked the schedule of volunteers and locations on a large dry erase board in the church office, gathered up the kettles, bells and signs and headed out to designated spots for the annual Salvation Army Red Kettle Campaign.

Robin Hart/

A little known fact about the small hand bells: Capt. Richmond rings each bell and pairs them together based on their ringtones. He said no one wants to hear clashing bells.

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This year, there are kettles at four locations in Danville — at the two entrances of Walmart, and at Hobby Lobby and Kroger. There are also three kettles in Harrodsburg, and one each in Stanford and Liberty.

Once the kettles are set up, volunteers are in charge of ringing the bells and spreading Christmas cheer.

Every evening when the ringing comes to an end, Capt. Richmond makes the rounds and collects the money. He said the goal this year is to raise $110,000, which is $2,000 more than was raised last year.

Every cent raised during the Red Kettle Campaign stays in the community. “What is raised is not by us, it is raised by the community,” Capt. Richmond said as he was driving to the next setup spot. He said the Salvation Army isn’t funded by something outside of the community. The Red Kettle Campaign is the largest fundraiser of the year and helps supports the programs and services the Salvation Army offers to local residents.

“We are blessed by what this community does for us.”

Capt. Richmond wears his uniform everyday — black slacks, a black sweater with red badges on the shoulders with white stars this time of year, a crisp white shirt and tie. He laughed and said a lot of people ask him if he’s a pilot and where he’s flying to.

He said it gives him a chance to explain he’s a captain in the Salvation Army, which often leads to more conversation about what exactly the Salvation Army is and does, he said.

Capt. Richmond said the Salvation Army is a Christian church, and members refer to themselves as Salvationists, “like Baptists and Methodists.” Capt. Richmond leads Sunday worship services, where there is music and hymns, and delivers the day’s message.

While setting up the next red metal easel and kettle, Capt. Richmond said the bells will be ringing up through Dec. 24. But, he added, there is no bell ringing on Sundays.

This is the third year he and his wife, Maj. Carrie Richmond, have been in Danville and have worked not only with the kettle drive, but also for the Salvation Army’s Christmas Angels.

On Friday, Capt. Richmond discovered the first volunteer wasn’t able to fill the one-hour time slot, so he stayed and rang the bell until the next volunteer in line came to take over.

He greeted each shopper with a sincere, “How are you,” or “Merry Christmas.” Sometimes his greetings were more individual such as, “I like your cool socks.”

He helped children drop in their coins, offering a little boy the chance to ring the bell.

Once he greeted an elderly gentleman who turned around in the parking lot and came back to shake Capt. Richmond’s hand.

He said when ringing the bell, you sometimes notice someone may be having a rough day. He said he tries to greet everyone with a smile. “It’s always a good thing when they smile back at you.”


Bellringers are still needed to fill many volunteer slots. You may volunteer individually or as a group. To volunteer as a kettle bellringer for The Salvation Army, call Dana Long at (859) 236-4473.