John Klein stands next to the red Salvation Army bucket outside of Stater Bros. in Canyon Country on a cold Saturday night. He has layers of jackets, sweatshirts, a scarf and a fuzzy Santa hat on his head.
He can stand the cold.
But not just because of the heavy clothing that he is wearing.
“It’s the niceness of people,” Klein said.
This is Klein’s first holiday season as a paid Salvation Army bell ringer. He first started volunteering at the Salvation Army a year ago after his son used the organization’s services.
“He used to be involved with drugs and trouble and really turned his life around after going through the Salvation Army rehabilitation program,” Klein said.
“They changed his life. Really, they saved his life.”
“After seeing his son change, he comes and volunteers,” said Laura Bloom, who is one of the officers in charge of the Salvation Army Santa Clarita corps. “He is so thrilled to have that happen and he wants to give back.”
Klein rings his bell outside various supermarkets with a chair next to him and a bag of candy to offer anyone who donates.
“I think you give to people who are in need,” Heather Blom said after she dropped in a few dollars. “And when you’re in need you hope that that kindness will come back around for you.”
Bloom said that the Salvation Army had received large donations and that people have dropped 50$ and even 100$ into the bucket, but any amount helps.
“It makes a difference, it puts food on the table, it helps people,” Bloom said.
The Salvation Army offers various social services for those who need it and the money that is raised by bell ringers like Klein will go towards assisting those in the local area.
“The dedication, that’s what keeps them doing it,” Bloom said when asked about what keeps bell ringers going in the cold.
“They know that they are doing something that makes a difference.”