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CHRIS AOver the past few weeks as I passed in and out of busy department stores preparing Christmas gifts for loved ones, it was certain that i would pass many bell ringers for the Salvation Army. In fact, it’s so ingrained into our holiday season that I’m almost certain we would miss the faint ringing of those bells if it were not present.

This week, something special happened for an Elder living at Signature HealthCARE of Putnam in Cookeville, TN. An opportunity to continue living a life that he’d always led.

Shelly West, QOL Director, of SHC Putnam shares his story below:

When you stop by Signature HealthCARE of Putnam County in Algood, Tn, you will most likely find Chris Alexander volunteering his time to work in our Country Store, but recently he has added a new vocation: Bell Ringer for the Salvation Army.

Prior to coming to live at Signature, Mr. Alexander, who worked for the Sherriff’s Department, enjoyed helping several different charitable organizations, particularly at Christmas time. He collected toys for Toys for Tots, delivered Christmas dinner to shut-ins, and volunteered for the Salvation Army. He says volunteering helped him to keep a thankful heart and made him feel appreciative of being able to provide for his family and others. He also says he was very depressed when he first arrived at Signature, but the opportunity to work in the store gave him a sense of purpose and made him feel important.

This week, when one of his favorite CNA’s jokingly suggested he could ring a bell and collect money like at the stores in town, Mr. Alexander took the idea and ran with it. “Why not?” he thought. He set up a collection pot and began ringing his bell to collect money for his favorite charity, the Salvation Army. Before long, the news had gotten around, and a representative from the local chapter of the Salvation Army came right over to bring Mr. Alexander all the official gear of a Salvation Army Bell Ringer. He raised over $50 in a matter of hours! So now, when you visit Signature HealthCARE of Putnam County, you will find Mr. Alexander in his red Salvation Army apron with his Santa Hat and red collection pot ringing his bell proudly, enjoying being able to continue giving back to the community he loves.

Eden Alternative Principle Four teaches that by creating opportunities to give care as well as receive care we are able to combat the deadly plague of helplessness. While Mr. Alexander may have more purpose this holiday season, he also is spreading a more timely message. I see this as a gentle reminder from our Elders to slow down, enjoy the season and keep a thankful heart for what we have.