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Salvation Army Volunteers Ring In Holiday Cheer

If you've visited the Stop & Shop in the Goodwives Shopping Center, you may have been greeted by the smiling face of Charlie Goden, a Salvation Army volunteer for 10 years.

Goden, who speaks very little English, first became a Salvation Army bell ringer through his church and has been doing it ever since. He sometimes stands outside ringing the bell and collecting money for up to seven hours a day, bundled up in his leather jacket, gloves, and a Santa hat that lights up. "Sometimes I'm cold, sometimes I'm not," he said.

He was joined on Wednesday afternoon by Antonio Sandobal, who was participating for the first time. Both said Darien shoppers have been very generous and always give a lot of change.

Olive Hauser, director of Darien Social Services, said this has been a good year for the Salvation Army collection. She said the annual drives normally bring in around $4,000.

"The money collected by the Salvation Army goes to provide basic needs for people who are living on low to moderate incomes," she said. Volunteers like Goden and Sandobal collect the money that helps Social Services provide clients with rent payments, money to pay bills, gift certificates to buy food, and even partial payments on summer school and home repairs.

"We're a little unit but we do a lot," Hauser said.

If you don't happen to run into any of the bell ringers on the street, this year the Salvation Army has started an Online Red Kettle program. You can go and donate to the local kettles, or even start your own to help raise money for those who need help during the holiday season.

Have you ever volunteered to stand outside ringing the bells for the Salvation Army? Share your stories in the comments below!

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