Top bell ringer honored for 105 hours of service

Published on Saturday, 14 December 2013 23:29 - Written by By Betty Waters

The Salvation Army honored a Tyler bell ringer Saturday, who set a world record with two other ringers, and also honored the community for its support.

 Major Ben Lawrence, who with his wife is over The Salvation Army in Tyler, congratulated Andre Thompson, of Tyler, for ringing a bell at a Salvation Army bucket for 105 hours for a three-way tie with bell ringers in Minneapolis, Minn., and San Diego, Calif.

 Thompson rang the bell continuously at the Walgreens at the intersection of Rieck Road and South Broadway Avenue from 11 a.m. on Dec. 3 to 8 p.m. on Dec. 7 with only a five-minute break every hour.

 During that time, contributions to the red kettle/bucket where Thomson rang a bell totaled $14,066, Lawrence said.

 “I’d like to thank each and every one of you for your generous support,” Lawrence said during the ceremony in front of Walgreens.

 There were many people that helped, Lawrence said, citing as examples people who brought a heater and food, people who encouraged Thompson, police who patrolled the area and the media.

 “I’ve been an officer in The Salvation Army for almost 20 years, and I’ve never seen the public come out and support (like people did in Tyler), encourage all throughout the day and night. It was a wonderful thing to see,” Lawrence said.

 “When (Thompson) was growing weary and tired at times, people would come by and encourage him and give him energy again. It was a wonderful thing to sit back and see it transpire.”

 Lawrence presented one of the bells that Thompson rang to the manager of Walgreens, Brett McAnally.

“Anything we needed, he came through for us,” Lawrence said.

 McAnally said it was a nice thing for the store to be able to help out the community, and the support from employees and the public was overwhelming.

 Lawrence also presented one of the bells to Thompson.

“If you ever need him to do anything, he will stay up all night — three or four straight days — and get it done,” Lawrence said.

 Thompson told the crowd, “I would like to thank my Lord and savior Jesus Christ for giving me the opportunity to do something I’ve always wanted to do and that is to help.”

 He added, “Second, I want to thank all y’all, each and every one of y’all that came every day or one time. People who came up and shook my hand, you hugged me; you encouraged me all day and all night. You prayed for me.”

Thanking numerous people, Thompson added, “The community — Tyler and the surrounding area — everybody just came together and pushed this whole thing forward. It wasn’t one individual; it was the whole town.”

A sign, which many people wrote messages on to Thompson while he was ringing the bell, will be hung at The Salvation Army, Lawrence said.