Bell ringer brings cheer to Christmas shoppers

By CHRISTINE BOATWRIGHT / Staff Writer

ALABASTER – Maria Phillips stood in front of the Colonial Promenade’s JC Penny bundled in a thick sweatshirt waving cheerily to incoming and outgoing shoppers. The bell in her hand jingled as customers tucked bills into the bright red bucket.

Phillips and her husband, who moved to the county a few months ago, applied to work for the Salvation Army as bell ringers this Christmas. Beginning Nov. 18, Phillips has been ringing the donation bell every day through Christmas Eve.

“I like seeing people,” she said. “I have social anxiety, so it’s good for me to be around people. It’s helping me get into the Christmas spirit.

“You can definitely tell who’s in the Christmas mood,” she said of the continuous stream of shoppers.

Maria Phillips greets shoppers in front of Alabaster's JC Penny for the Salvation Army. (Reporter photo/Christine Boatwright)

The Salvation Army has given Phillips more than a holiday job.

“They helped me go to church now, and I love it,” she said. “They pick me up for work; they gave me a job, and they help us if we need anything. I can call them if I need them to take me grocery shopping.”

During these chilly evenings, Phillips said she has had several offers for coffee to warm her from the cold.

“Sometimes I think it isn’t appreciated,” she said of the work she’s doing, “but every once in awhile, you get a shock.

“There are less volunteers that there used to be, so even when I find a full-time job, I still plan on helping next year.”