The Salvation Army Martinsville Corps has helped Steven and Diane Yohn in hard times, and now they want to give back by volunteering as bell ringers.
“I don’t want to be paid. We really need volunteers,” Diane Yohn, 66, said Friday as she stood ringing a bell near one of the main entrances at Walmart in Martinsville.
At another store entrance with bell in hand was Steven, 66, seated in a walker next to a red kettle.
This is their third year ringing a bell for the local Salvation Army branch.
“I’m always happy to help the Salvation Army. They helped me and my husband through hard times,” Diane said. “They were there for us. This is the least we could do.”
The Yohns also at times have eaten at the Salvation Army’s regular meals on multiple days of the week, she said.
“Last year, if it wasn’t for the Salvation Army, we wouldn’t have had a Christmas dinner or a Thanksgiving dinner,” Diane said.
In addition, the Salvation Army kept the Yohns’ electric power on when they couldn’t pay a nearly $300 power bill,
“It just felt great for somebody to care, as they do,” Diane said “They’re out there feeding people…. They have the angel tree that helps the children that ain’t going to have a Christmas.”
The couple knows how rough finances can be for someone living on a fixed income.
“It’s a little rough for me and my husband because you get one check a month,” Diane said Steven is a retired truck driver and she worked as an office cleaner.
Diane is borderline diabetic and has a learning disability.
Said Steven of his ailments: “I’ve had 12 heart attacks. I died 12 times and they brought me back.”
He added that he sees people in need of help and he and his wife feel the need to give back.
“God has been great to my wife and me, and now since He has been good to me, I can be good to other people,” Steven said.
Steven said he enjoys bell ringing and encountering people.
Steven described the touching moments he’s witnessed as a bell ringer, such as the time a mother gave each of her children five pennies to put in the kettle, and then she put in $5.
“Tears came to my eyes, because I see them little kids. That’s the future of the churches and the future of our country,” Steven said.
Another time recently, Steven said, it was cold and a woman came up and asked if he drank coffee. He told her yes.
She then left and, roughly 10 minutes later, returned with a double cheeseburger and a cup of coffee.
“I’ve had people in the past come up and give us doughnuts and coffee and stuff like that,” Steven said. “The (bell-ringing) locations we’ve been to, workers and management would bring us stuff,” Steven said.
Lt. George Keith of the Salvation Army Martinsville Corps said the kettle campaign goal is $60,000, and donations are lagging.
Also, more bell-ringers are needed.
“We have two weeks left of our kettle campaign,” Keith said.
Anyone interested in ringing the bell can call 276-638-7259.