By Jeanne LeFlore
KREBS — For more than a half a century, two 80-year-old McAlester residents and long-time Rotarians have volunteered to ring to the bell for the Salvation Army. Bob Saunier and George Lampton said they’ve loved every minute of it. “I’ve been doing as long as I’ve been in Rotary, 55 years,” Saunier said. Lampton said he’s been ringing the bell for more than 30 years.
Their combined total is more than 80 years of bell ringing. “Eighty seems to be a magic number,” Lampton said. Saturday evening, Saunier and Lampton were stationed in front of the McAlester Walmart Supercenter ringing a bell and passing out candy.
Originally, they rang a bell in downtown McAlester. Saunier said 50 years ago, Rotarians would set up a table in front of the J.C. Penney store on Choctaw Avenue at Second Street for the Salvation Army collection. “We would have a record player and play Christmas music and we had a megaphone,” Saunier said. “We had a lot of fun. When we saw someone we knew who tried to pass by without making a donation we would use that megaphone and call their name.”
Besides the fun, Saunier and Lampton said they were always touched by the generosity of the givers. “It’s always wonderful to see a young child drop a few pennies in the bucket,” Saunier said. “You know their mothers are teaching them about giving.” Lampton agreed. “The children love to drop money into the pot.” Lampton said the McAlester Rotary Club has won many awards from the Salvation Army for collecting the most money during their bell-ringer periods.
“We have some little trophies somewhere, Lampton said. “I’ve seen them.” The octogenarians both said their time spent ringing the bell for the Salvation Army was well spent. “It’s always been gratifying to see people give. It really gives a good feeling,” Saunier said.
Contact Jeanne LeFlore at email@example.com.
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