The Athens Review
The Salvation Army bell ringers are out in force again this year, but one adds his own touch to the ring-a-ling.
Mark Blanck, house manager at Chapman House in Eustace, sings along with his bell. His rich baritone beckons shoppers from across the Walmart parking lot to the donation kettle.
“I did it one day and they said they wanted to invite me back this Friday from noon to 5 p.m.,” Blanck said. “Last time, I was scheduled for two hours, but I stayed for about four. The guys who came after me said I could stay as long as I want. It’s all in good fun.”
Blanck has sung in church choirs and loves Christmas carols. A few years ago, while living in McKinney, he started adding his vocals to the ding-dong-ding of the Salvation Army bell.
“I sing on key, but I don’t have any kind of operatic voice,” Blanck said. “I love the Lord and use my singing to reach out a little bit.”
Blanck said his singing has drawn a lot of interesting reactions through the years.
“I sang at a parking lot in Frisco and here came this lady from the other end of the parking lot,” Blanck said.
“She was grinning ear to ear. When she got up to me she leaned over and said, ‘You sound a lot better from out there than you do up close.’”
Blanck said some of the older people aren’t shy about getting into the act.
“They break into a harmony and sing better than I do,” Blanck said.
Singing for hours doesn’t seem to bother him. If his throat gets a little tired, he’ll just whistle a few until he’s rested.
“Once in McKinney, I was whistling a Christmas carol and a lady put her face right up next to mine and said, ‘I’ve never heard anything like that,”’ Blanck said. “She didn’t put anything in the kettle, though.”
The singing is fun, Blanck said, but getting money in the pot is the ultimate goal.
“The Salvation Army is one of the most efficient charities,” Blanck said. “They do a lot of good and I’m happy to do this to help.”