It’s a sign of the season. Bell ringers, and those red Salina Salvation Army Kettles. One Salina man is synonymous with those red kettles. For the last 29 years Ray Brown has rang a bell beside a red kettle.
Ray Brown turned 80-years-young earlier this month. For 29 of those 80 years, since 1986, he has been faithfully ringing a bell for the Salina Salvation Army. Brown tells KSAL News that he has seen it all.
One of the strangest things was when a man dressed as Santa tried to steal his kettle. “He told me that he was here to relieve me,” Brown said. “I wasn’t so sure, so I called from a nearby pay phone. I turned around, and he was gone. It was like he vanished in thin air,” he said.
The single largest donation Brown ever received was a $100 bill. “I appreciate every donation, though,” he added.
Over the years Brown has moved around to multiple locations. In recent years he has been stationed at the Salina K-Mart store. He says he likes it there, and has gotten to know many of the people who come and go. He is also complimentary of the management there. “They really take care of me, and insist I come in and warm up when it’s cold,” he said.
Brown is passionate about what he does, and has no plans to slow down anytime soon.
The Kettle Campaign is the Salvation Army’s single larges fundraiser. It funds local programs throughout the year.