Marilyn Callen receives coupons to give to larger donors for a free gift from Horicon Bank. Handing them to her is Salvation Army kettle coordinator Lee Prellwitz.
Marilyn Callen receives coupons to give to larger donors for a free gift from Horicon Bank. Handing them to her is Salvation Army kettle coordinator Lee Prellwitz.

   Eighty-nine-year-old Marilyn Callen starts by putting on her distinctive red coat on a Friday after Thanksgiving each year.

   Then she affixes a special badge to it, steps outside and begins to walk a half mile to Market Fresh.

   When she gets there, Marilyn doesn’t stop to sit, or take time to shop.

   She’s on duty doing a task she adores: Marilyn begins ringing the bell for the Salvation Army.

   “Oh, yes,” she said of how people grin back at her. “People are wonderful; there isn’t anyone who isn’t nice to me. We greet each other, and I just can’t tell you what it means to me and how much it helps me. That’s why I don’t wait for anybody to call me.”

   While some might consider it a burden to give an hour or two of their time to ask for donations on a cold, winter’s day, Marilyn sees it differently.

   “It makes my day,” she said.

   “She always is the first person to volunteer,” said Lee Prellwitz, a long-time organizer of the bell-ringing campaign (though now in the process of retiring from the gig).

    But it’s not the shining faces alone that brings Marilyn and others out to ring the bell. It’s also the work that the Salvation Army does within the Ripon community that provides motivation.

   “They do very good work,” Marilyn said.

Read the full story in the Dec. 6, 2018 edition of the Ripon Commonwealth Press.