Valley Electric Association got into the spirit of giving by providing a whole day of bell ringers at three locations for the Salvation Army on Dec. 12, two in front of Walmart and one in front of Smith’s in Pahrump, the association announced.
There were 10 time-slots per location, so basically, VEA had 30 hour-long slots to fill. In addition to the volunteers, VEA also donated $1,000 to the Salvation Army.
Salvation Army Major Mario Ruiz was there in front of Smith’s to receive the check from Ryan Muccio, VEA community relations representative.
“We want to thank Valley Electric for helping out with this,” Ruiz said. “This is an awesome gift and will help us to reach our goal. We are thankful for all the volunteers that come out to help the Salvation Army, especially now that we have had all these tragic disasters a few months ago.”
Ruiz said the Salvation Army helped millions of families during the hurricanes and the mass shooting in Las Vegas.
“We served nearly 2 million meals for the two hurricanes, Harvey and Maria,” Ruiz said.
“We were there for the shooting in Las Vegas. We were out there every single day helping out with that.”
Bell ringing for the Salvation Army is a long-standing tradition with the organization, which was formed more than 100 years ago. The Salvation Army has had a presence in Pahrump since 1998.
“Bell ringing helps us fundraise for the neediest people in the community. We provide food boxes, we help out with clothing, we help with furniture and any other stuff that people may need.”
The major said during Christmas the funds help with food boxes and with toys, clothing and coats. He said they also provide for camps during the summer for kids.
“We will be starting an after-school program as well,” Ruiz said. “So, all the funds go to the neediest in the community.”
Both VEA employees and VEA ambassadors helped to fill the spots on Dec. 12.
Robin Caddell, a VEA project manager, was out in front of Walmart. She was no stranger to bell ringing.
“I am from Missouri, and so I did it there,” she said. “I am out here because I think it is part of giving back and I always believe in giving back.”
Two VEA ambassadors, Ernest and Michelle Livingston, volunteered to stand out in front of Walmart.
“We are transplants from Chicago,” Michelle Livingston said.
“This is our third year bell ringing with Valley Electric,” Ernest Livingston said. “We have lived in Pahrump since 2003.”
Valley Communications Association Chief Operating Officer Kathie McKenna had a similar experience. McKenna has a long history of volunteering for the Salvation Army and is very passionate about it.
For 10 years, her son, Alex Zentgraf, used to ring with her in Missouri in the snow, sometimes up to four hours. Her son is in town for the holidays and went with her to Smith’s to ring.
“I asked my son, who is now in college, if he wanted to ring with me again,” she said. “And he jumped on that. But when we rang for only an hour he said, ‘We only have to be out here for an hour?’ And, of course, there was no snow, so this was easy for him. We just got to relive a lot of memories of when he was a little boy.”
VEA Executive Vice President of Broadband Business Ken Johnson rang the bell in front of Smith’s too. Johnson was enjoying the desert weather. Originally from Ohio, he remembers the lake-effect snow coming off the Great Lakes during this time of year.
Johnson said that bell ringing is just a reminder to take our eyes off ourselves and think broader.
“Anything like this reminds us to do that,” he said. “We are always so focused on the pressures bearing down on ourselves. It’s a great reminder to catch a breath and to remember that there are people not as fortunate as us.”