Through his volunteerism, Gray makes the holidays brighter
● By Steven Hoffman
Shoppers entering the Oxford Walmart on Dec. 21 saw a very familiar sight—Harold Gray was stationed outside the store ringing that ubiquitous bell to collect money for the Salvation Army.
At this time of the year, Gray can often be seen volunteering his time on behalf of the Salvation Army—just the latest example of his life of service. Gray served his country in the military and then he served his community—first as a police officer for 27 years and then as a mayor for 12 years. He has volunteered for the Salvation Army since 1965.
Gray explained that after he served in Korea, he returned to his hometown of Oxford and joined the police department. He saw that there were people in the community who needed help meeting their most basic needs. A coordinator for the Salvation Army talked to him one day about the mission of the group, and Gray wanted to help out.
“I’ve been blessed in my life, and I figured that I would help others,” Gray explained.
The Salvation Army is an international charitable organization that helps the poor, destitute, and hungry in more than 100 countries around the world, providing everything from food and shelter to the poor to disaster relief and humanitarian aid to developing countries.
While he has no idea how much money he has helped the organization collect through the years, Gray’s volunteer efforts have helped make the holidays brighter for many people in need.
Gray, who will turn 89 in March, can often be found ringing a bell outside stores during the days leading up to Christmas. His only concession to his age is that these days, he might ring the bell for four or five hours instead of the twelve or thirteen hours a day that he used to spend on the task.
Gray isn’t the only long-time volunteer for the Salvation Army in the Oxford area. Artie Anderson, the borough’s treasurer who retired this year, has also been a longtime volunteer. Her husband, Ross, also helps out.
Gray is well known around the area. Many people know him from his time as a police officer or mayor. But others recognize him because he spends so much time collecting for the Salvation Army during the holidays. He enjoys helping out others, and continuing his life of service.
“I’m going to do this as long as I can,” he said.