ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ7) - The Salvation Army's bell ringers are among the most iconic parts of the holiday season. And this Christmas, one of Roanoke's bell ringers delivers more than what most folks expect to find at their local grocery store.
What you might hear outside one Kroger in Roanoke is a carol of the
bells. They're bells that belong to the Salvation Army, ringing for days on end to create the sound of the season.
"I told my wife, I said look, 'I'll go ring the bell, I'll go try it,"' said bell ringer Victore Bridges. "And when I tried it, I liked it."
For veteran bell ringers Bridges this is more than a job or act of charity.
For him this is a calling.
"You know because there's a blessing in this when you ring this bell and I tell people you won't regret it."
Bridges is one of Roanoke's best bell ringers. He said each year his little red bucket usually collects about $5,000 dollars.
"I say nah, I'm not the top man, God is the top man!" he said, chuckling.
He's been all over Roanoke.
But this Bonsack Kroger is his favorite destination.
"This is my store, I've claimed my store, and they know it too."
That's because these customers are more than passers by.
They've become friends - extensions of his family.
He cuts up with them
He shares a smile with them.
He even prays with them.
"Most heavenly Father, come here right now as we pray," he said, arm wrapped around a woman.
Right here in front of Kroger, Bridges rings up the best deal of the season.
"In Jesus' name we pray, Amen."
"I love you," said the woman.
"I love you too," he replied.
He worries about what would happen if he weren't here.
It's why he's only missed one shift in the last six years.
"That's why I can't leave this job," he said, looking after the woman. "People like her make a difference in my life also."
Bridges said it's easy for him to be relaxed, to be cheerful, to be himself.
"Because I've been disabled all my life. So I gotta show my side, you know, I can't look down on myself. I look at myself that I'm able to stand up and get up every morning and use crutches and work," he said. "...And you know I don't sit still, you gotta have life, put it that way, you gotta enjoy life."
Rain or shine or snow, Bridges plans to enjoy life right here, for every Christmas to come.
"I will do it, till the day God calls me home. I will do it."