Helen the Bell Ringer is back out this year, collecting donations for the Salvation Army in St. Croix County.
For four consecutive Decembers, Helen McCombie held a 30-hour bell ringing marathon for the charity, but last year’s sub-zero temperatures had convinced her to hang up her bell.
However, with Salvation Army Red Kettle Campaign receipts down both in St. Croix County and across the nation, Helen came out of retirement and enlisted her family and friends to set up a kettle outside the County Market store in Hudson. They started work at 5am Monday morning and will be going through noon on Tuesday.
McCombie’s son, who helped in last year’s marathon, is also conducting his own bell-ringing mission for the Salvation Army at his air force base in Rapid City, South Dakota.
The night should not be as cold as last year’s, but Helen and friends will be dealing with a snow storm. She says they have an electric blanket and heater with them this time and she expects to be doing a “lot of dancing” and “moving around” to stay warm.
Helen hopes to raise $30,000, a rate of a thousand dollars an hour. She was up to about $9,000 by noon on Monday.