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Salvation Army Bells Ring in Millwood

MILLWOOD, N.Y. – New Castle residents buying groceries this time of year are likely come to across Cathy Trocheck. During the holiday season, she can be found ringing her bell for the Salvation Army outside of the A&P in Millwood six days a week from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

“The people here have been very nice,” said Trocheck, who is in her third year with the organization. She said that due to the struggling economy, there has been a noticeable drop-off in donations this year. “Nobody has it, you know? But I’ll tell you, the people have been very generous and I keep coming back.”

Trocheck said residents often wonder how she can stand outside in the cold for eight hours during the chilly winter season. She said the cold is tolerable if it is prepared for properly.

“If you put on enough layers it won’t bother you,” said Trocheck. “If you come out here with just a sweater or something, by 4 p.m. you’re frozen.”

While ringing a bell may seem like monotonous task, Trocheck said passing the time is not as difficult as one might think. “I’ve met a lot of people that I can talk to and we get a lot of interesting stories,” she said. “I met one man whose mother worked for the Salvation Army back in 1903.”

Last year the greater New York area volunteers raised $25 million for people in need, according to Denise Richardson, who is the Director of Communications for the Greater New York Area Chapter of the Salvation Army.

The Salvation Army can be traced back to San Francisco. It was 1891 when English sailor Joseph McFee was looking for a way to raise money for the poor during Christmas when he remembered seeing passengers from docked boats in England tossing coins into a large kettle called "Simpson's Pot."

McFee set up his first kettle at the Oakland Ferry Landing with a sign which read "Keep the Pot Boiling." He raised enough money that year to provide Christmas dinner to many poor families.

By 1897, kettles had gone nationwide funding 150,000 Christmas dinners for the poor and by 1901, donations in New York City funded a sit-down dinner held at Madison Square Garden.

Trocheck said she was drawn to the organization for the charity work it does in providing shelter for homeless soldiers, and in organizing toy and food drives for needy families. “I do it so at least somebody’ll have a toy for Christmas.”

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