The lilting sound of the Salvation Army bells are synonymous with the season. An audible reminder that there are others less fortunate who need a hand.
ForRonnie Amick, 30, and Bridgette Amick, 29, husband and wife and both lieutenants in the Salvation Army, the bells sound like time ticking as they race toward a Christmas deadline. This season is one of the most important fundraisers for the Salvation Army's mission.
"The kettle season helps fund us throughout the year, the shelters, the soup kitchens, the food pantries, the youth camps," Ronnie Amick said. "In every community across America, this time, this six or eight weeks is what does it."
It's the fifth Christmas in the Quad-Cities. They came to the Moline center straight from Salvation Army College for Officer Training in Chicago, blocks away from Wrigley Field, Ronnie remembers.
They met in Cedar Rapids. Ronnie was a youth pastor visiting his sister, who is also an officer in the Salvation Army. Bridgette worked in a Christian bookstore. Both were happy but both felt a calling.
"I think we would have both been just as happy not to (enter into the Salvation Army) but it is very much a calling," Ronnie said. "It's not something you just one day decide to do. It's a different lifestyle."
"It's not a 9 to 5 job, we take a lot of work home with us. At this time of the year we are here an awful lot," Bridgette said. "Our boys come down here to eat with us, they ride in the van with us for the kettles. Even on vacations we are talking about what's going on at the Salvation Army. There's really no escaping it."
Not that they would want it any other way. Both find a great amount of joy in what they are doing.
"Some days are better than others, but every day is a victory because every day we make a difference in someone's life whether we see it or not," Ronnie said. "It's very gratifying to do this work."
"When someone gets it, if that is an understanding of what Jesus is or if it's just that balancing a checkbook, knowing how much money you have to spend so you don't need to get assistance from the food pantry, seeing small victories in people is very satisfying," Bridgette said. "Our kids (Zayden, 7, andBeckam, 3) they are part of this ministry too. They are always asking 'what can we do to help that person, or can we help them more?' That's very gratifying."
The Salvation Army's goal for this area is to raise $725,000 during the kettle season. Bridgette said the Illinois side was behind until about three days ago, when they pulled ahead of last year's amount to date.
"Our first couple of Christmases here were better, but the last three years have been pretty steady," Ronnie said. "The Quad-Cities is a very giving community."
"We've seen a lot of our donors have to turn to us for help over the past few years," Bridgette said. "But we've been pretty steady, which is good."
"We've got our Christmas distribution day coming up on Dec. 19; that's going to be a crazy day," Ronnie said. "But if just one person turns to us and says 'thank you' it will all be worth it."