Salvation Army Bell Ringers Compete for World Record

By Sabrina Elfarra

Dec 4, 2013 4:21pm

Ringing a bell for more than three days straight might not sound like everyone’s cup of tea, but five people have embarked on the grueling challenge in the name of charity and the holiday season.

The Salvation Army has kicked off its third annual World Record Bell Ringing Contest and the intrepid ringers, in four different states, are gunning for the current record of 80 hours.

It entails continuous bell-ringing, with no more than a 5-minute break per hour. Volunteers must stand through bad weather, fatigue and hunger next to their iconic red kettles that collect donations for charity.

“The money raised goes directly to the community, helping people in need,” Major Kyle Smith of the Salvation Army told ABC News today. Smith launched the competition in 2010, ringing a bell in Spokane, Wash., for 50 consecutive hours.

“When I did it and we first started in the good old days, we weren’t allowed to eat anything. Now they’re allowed to eat,” Smith said.

One of the brave contestants this year is Major Butch Soriano from San Diego, Calif., who has been bell-ringing for the Salvation Army every holiday season for two decades. To help him beat the 80-hour record, he is using a modified bell that is easier to hold. He stands on a special pad to help his feet.

When asked if he ever gets tired of the sound of the bell, Soriano told ABC station KABC that he tunes the bell out the way an athlete tunes out a crowd.

“They just hear the bell. I just see the coins coming in,” Soriano said Tuesday as he kicked off the competition.

Andre Thompson, who promotes the gospel through rap, is another contender. He is ringing his bell outside a Walgreens in Tyler, Texas.

“At two or three o’clock in the morning I might get a little fatigued but I have Christ on my side so I can do all things,” Thompson told ABC News affiliate KLTV.

Three others — in Minnesota, Montana and California — are trying to break the record as well. Major Emily Jones from Compton, Calif., started an attempt Tuesday, but laid her bell to rest that night.

“I commend Major Jones for her work,” said Smith. “She wasn’t in peak physical condition, but she wanted to go ahead and give it a go to bring attention to the cause. I tip my hat to her for giving it a shot.”

During last year’s holiday season, the Salvation Army collected $148.7 million.

To donate, or to learn more about the challenge, visit salvationarmyusa.org.

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(Getty Images)

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