For more than 20 years, Ernie Potter has been ringing bells to get people to drop coins into red kettles to help those in need in central Oklahoma.
Potter, 65, has seen some surprises in the kettles. A woman dropped a ring in a kettle with a note attached once that said, “This is not a mistake. Having this ring was a mistake.”
Once, a 1-ounce gold coin was dropped in a red kettle. There have been $100 bills, too. People drop their car keys in the kettles quite frequently, he said.
But none of the items found in the kettles reminds Potter why he rings the bells more than a woman who yelled at him not to go anywhere as she came out of a store.
The woman, he recalled, said she had gone through hard times 20 years earlier and her family would not have had a Christmas if it had not been for The Salvation Army's assistance.
“Those are the people who make it so satisfying,” Potter said. “People who have worked hard all their lives and are suddenly in need we assist. That is what makes you know how important this is.”
Potter recalled the story Thursday as he worked to round up more volunteers for this year's Salvation Army Red Kettle campaign in central Oklahoma. The national campaign is from Nov. 9 to Dec. 24.