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Archive for Wednesday, December 24, 2003

Longtime bell ringer nearly 90

December 24, 2003

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— Glenn Lichty has been ringing a bell this year to collect money for Salvation Army, making him the group's longest-running bell ringer as far as anyone at the agency can remember.

The Kansas City man, who turns 90 in a few months, has stood outside Wal-Marts, grocery stores and bookshops in Kansas and Missouri. He never gets tired of talking, and he never gets hoarse.

He said he planned to keep up the bell ringing every year "until I can't walk anymore."

Lichty's secret to successful bell ringing? Make eye contact and get them laughing.

"If they are smiling and laughing, they're more generous," Lichty said. "You're laughing because I'm laughing. I try to have fun."

True to form, Lichty was working the donation kettle for Salvation Army this past weekend in front of Barnes & Noble Booksellers in Kansas City's Country Club Plaza shopping district. His grin was gigantic, and his steps were light.

"It's a good day," Lichty said. "They're (passers-by) in the right mood."

In front of the store, Lichty became the unofficial doorman while another volunteer rang the bell. As shoppers strolled in, he offered cheery "Merry Christmases."

Lichty is among the 3,000 to 4,000 bell ringers the Salvation Army is depending on to bring in $1.1 million in kettle donations this year from the Kansas City area. The kettle operation ends Christmas Eve. The kettles are part of a larger Salvation Army campaign that lasts into January and aims to bring in $4 million.

Craig Reaves, who has been on bell-ringing jaunts with Lichty since the early 1970s, said Lichty embodies fun bell ringing, even when it's bitterly cold outside.

"It a fun time to share with anybody," Reaves said. "But it's a great time to share with him. He is a high-energy, almost effervescent, positive person."

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