Oxford Lions Club members ring bell for the Salvation Army12/26/2022 03:42PM ● By Steven Hoffman
One of the most-recognized symbols of the Salvation Army is the bell ringer with a red kettle standing in front of a grocery store or shopping mall. And in Oxford, many residents are missing one of the most recognizable bell ringers, Mayor Harold “Wimpy” Gray. He rang the bell for the Salvation Army from 1965 until 2020, bringing in thousands of dollars in those years for the town he loved. He was a familiar face at Redner’s Market, Wawa in Nottingham, and the Walmart in Lower Oxford, just to name a few locations.
The Red Kettle campaign is The Salvation Army’s largest fundraiser, contributing thousands of dollars to programs that help people throughout the country. Last year, the Oxford Lions Club picked up the bell for Gray, who passed away, and this year is no different.
Oxford Lions Club member Dudley Cummings was seen one cold morning at Walmart, ringing the bell and trying to stay warm.
“I have to stop for a few minutes and warm up inside,” he said. “But I’m happy to ring the bell no matter how cold.”
For years another familiar face for the Salvation Army was Artemis Anderson, who helped out while she was the treasurer for Oxford Borough.
The bell-ringing is over for this season, but donations are needed year-round for the work that Salvation Army does.
Besides helping out at Christmas, Anderson said, “The Salvation Army has done many things in the Oxford area. They supplied bookbags and school supplies to students, bought Christmas presents for students who would otherwise go without, send students to Camp Ladore in the summer, and also assist residents with rent, heat, electric and prescriptions.”
Donations are needed all year long, Anderson added.
“At this time of the year we are always looking for more bell-ringers, but we need donations all year to help the residents of Oxford and all around the country,” she said.
Your gift to the Salvation Army supports local families this season and beyond. So, you can put a present under someone’s tree today and a roof over someone’s head tomorrow by going online and making a donation at give.salvationarmyusa.org
It was bittersweet to see new faces and continue to mourn the passing of Mayor Gray, but it was another reminder of how one man can change the world and leave behind a positive legacy.
It wasn’t just about making a brighter Christmas for some, although the Salvation Army certainly does that. It was also about feeding the hungry, keeping the lights on and a home heated, and a roof over the heads of those that need a helping hand.
Gray said to many who listened to him as they put money in that red bucket, “I always knew “things” would get better. He may have meant that for a population that still is waiting for equality, but to anyone who knew him, he wanted things to get better for everyone no matter their color.
And he imprinted that lesson of humanity upon the Oxford Lions Club, who wouldn’t let that Salvation Army Bell go silent in the town of Oxford.
The Oxford Lions Club is looking for members. If you are interested in joining the Oxford Lions Club, call Mike Baker at 484-644-0943 or Wendy Smith at 484-459-6940 for more information. The Lion’s Clubs are a community service organization that provide services and programs at the local and international levels. They donate all money that is raised to charities in Oxford and around the world.