Portraits of N.Y.C. Salvation Army Bell Ringers

12/25/2013 at 01:10 PM EST

Salvation Army Bell Ringers in Manhattan, N.Y.C.
Salvation Army bell ringers Larissa (left) and Melanie
Tiffany Hagler-Geard/People
Salvation Army bell ringers are a fairly common sight this time of year, but just who exactly stands in the middle of Manhattan in December and rings a bell for eight hours?

Most Salvation Army Bell Ringers are "cadets" – seminarians preparing to become ministers in the Salvation Army. Others are volunteers.

Everyone featured below is a cadet in training, with the exception of Marcy, who is a volunteer.

Portraits of N.Y.C. Salvation Army Bell Ringers| Real People Stories

Melanie

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Melanie, 21
"I love the smiles I get and being able to spread holiday cheer."

Portraits of N.Y.C. Salvation Army Bell Ringers| Real People Stories

Larissa

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Larissa, 19
"I've been in the Salvation Army my whole life ... I was kind of nervous about coming in and being in the city and all these people, but it's just incredible to see how many people you can touch each day and see the Christmas spirit go around."

Portraits of N.Y.C. Salvation Army Bell Ringers| Real People Stories

Felix

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Felix, 25
"We realized that when we dance, act a little goofy at the kettle stand, people are more receptive ... in an average day, we quadruple what we get. The more money we get, the more people we can help."

Portraits of N.Y.C. Salvation Army Bell Ringers| Real People Stories

Marcy

Tiffany Hagler-Geard / People

Marcy
"I was walking home from my church – Chambers Memorial Baptist Church – and I saw a sign that said the Salvation Army needed ringers. I've been doing this ever since."

Portraits of N.Y.C. Salvation Army Bell Ringers| Real People Stories

Pratik

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Pratik
"I know that every dollar that goes in this bucket is going to go to changing someone's life. That's the most amazing part of doing this."

Portraits of N.Y.C. Salvation Army Bell Ringers| Real People Stories

Kevin

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Kevin
"I actually used to work as a social worker for the Salvation Army, so I know that the money does go back to the community."

Portraits of N.Y.C. Salvation Army Bell Ringers| Real People Stories

Marco

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Marco, 22
"To know that I'm out here dancing and bringing joy to others just makes it all worthwhile."

Portraits of N.Y.C. Salvation Army Bell Ringers| Real People Stories

Ivan

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Ivan, 25
"We get to connect the [people who] help with the people who need help."

Portraits of N.Y.C. Salvation Army Bell Ringers| Real People Stories

Katie

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Katie, 25
"There's a lot of people who need helping in New York, and we also get to put smiles on people's faces with our dancing – that's what I love about doing this."

Portraits of N.Y.C. Salvation Army Bell Ringers| Real People Stories

Alini

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Alini, 33
"I like to sing 'All I Want For Christmas Is You' to people, because it makes them feel special."

Portraits of N.Y.C. Salvation Army Bell Ringers| Real People Stories

Katie (left) and Alini

Tiffany Hagler-Geard / People

Fact: There are 38 cadets from the College for Officer Training ringing bells on NYC streets this time of year.

Portraits of N.Y.C. Salvation Army Bell Ringers| Real People Stories

Pratik (left) and Kevin

Tiffany Hagler-Geard / People

Fact: There are over 250 kettle donation sites throughout the Greater New York area.

Portraits of N.Y.C. Salvation Army Bell Ringers| Real People Stories

Ivan and Hello Kitty

Tiffany Hagler-Geard / People

A very NYC-appropriate image: A Salvation Army bell ringer and a Hello Kitty mascot.

Portraits of N.Y.C. Salvation Army Bell Ringers| Real People Stories

Felix

Tiffany Hagler-Geard / People

If you're interested in volunteering for the Salvation Army, click here.



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