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Salvation Army Bells Ringing in Downtown Rye

RYE, N.Y. - Although Salvation Army Volunteer Mike Ricci has only been bell ringing for two weeks, he's already boiled his strategy down to a science.

"I've discovered that you can be as friendly as you want," Ricci said, "But the people that want to give are going to give, and those that don't won't."

Ricci, a resident of Rye Brook, said he's been happy with the overall support.

"People have been very generous," Ricci said, "Including the shopkeepers."

According to Denise Richardson, director of communications for the Greater New York Area Chapter of the Salvation Army, area volunteers raised $25 million for people in need in 2010.

The Salvation Army can be traced back to San Francisco. It was 1891 when English sailor Joseph McFee was looking for a way to raise money for the poor during Christmas when he remembered seeing passengers from docked boats in England tossing coins into a large kettle called "Simpson's Pot."

McFee set up his first kettle at the Oakland Ferry Landing with a sign which read "Keep the Pot Boiling." He raised enough money that year to provide Christmas dinner to many poor families.

By 1897, kettles had gone nationwide funding 150,000 Christmas dinners for the poor and by 1901, donations in New York City funded a sit-down dinner held at Madison Square Garden.

Ricci, who's been retired since 2007, said he got involved with the Salvation Army as a way of getting out of the house. Ultimately he's looking for a more permanent gig, but stated he couldn't turn down an opportunity to help such a good cause.

The bell ringing will be outside of Ruby's Oyster Bar on Purchase street in downtown Rye all the way up until Christmas eve.

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