When Holly Padjen went into Super 1 Foods' foyer last week and saw, and heard, the Salvation Army bell ringer, there was no question what she'd do next.
For Padjen, 30, it was, again, time to give.
One could say she heard the bell calling.
Padjen stopped, gave her son, Mylez, 4, a few quarters, and gently directed him to drop the quarters in the red kettle in front of bell ringer Erica Tierney, 20, one of the 17 paid bell ringers in the Ellensburg area this season.
They both smiled and chuckled as Mylez sauntered past the kettle and was headed to the game machine that gives the winner a little, stuffed animal.
"Whoa, wait Mylez, come back," Padjen said as she laughed.
Mylez, looking into his mother's eyes, turned, went to the hanging kettle and with little hands and a little encouragement dropped the coins in.
"We try to give money to the Salvation Army whenever we see a kettle," said Padjen, who added that having her son drop money into the kettle will, hopefully, give him memories of doing something to help others.
Padjen knows first hand the importance of giving back to the community.
She got help once from the Salvation Army locally when the down economy caused a hardship.
Padjen also was a paid bell ringer for five Christmas seasons when she was younger.
"It was just cool," Padjen said. "Most dropped in change and a few dollar bills, but every once in a while someone would drop in a $100 or a $50.
"That really helps. It's a neat cause."
Yet she also remembers the man who would walk briskly by and say "bah, humbug" as he passed not stopping.
"There were just a very few like that, but most every one was friendly and smiled as they passed, whether they gave or not.
"They know the Salvation Army does good for people."
The Salvation Army's work in the Ellensburg area doesn't reflect "cookie cutter" services elsewhere, said Shaun Jones, the Army's extension director in Seattle.
"Every area has Salvation Army fundraising, and the money raised there stays there to assist services that meet what needs are unique to your area," Jones said.
The Salvation Army works hard to not duplicate services to the needy that already exist in an area but try to fill gaps where services may not be readily available, he said.
And the need is going nowhere but up.
Although there are people who have repeatedly come to the Salvation Army with needs, Jones said as the recession continues, they are seeing people and families who have never asked for help before.
In Ellensburg, those services are coordinated through the FISH (Friends In Service to Humanity) Food Bank and Salvation Army coordinator Bianca Bailey.
She also organizes the hiring and schedules of 12 men and five women who are being paid to ring their bells at five retail store locations in Ellensburg this holiday season.
Bailey said she also has three volunteers in the community who help with bell ringing. If there were more volunteers, the fundraising would net more for local services, she said.
Yet, she realizes the paid bell ringers need the work.
"It's temporary, seasonal employment that can help people out when they need it," Bailey said.
As far as services, about $1,200 a month goes out for emergency fuel vouchers, help with utility bills and many other situations.
"It's such an incredible feeling to be able to help someone who may really be at the end of their rope," Bailey said. "Sometimes they are so thankful they are crying when we give them help and then I'll start crying, too.
"It's so fulfilling."
The local needs have definitely increased with the struggling economy, she said, and it would be great to have more volunteers for bell ringing that would increase the amount available locally for services.
"But people are still giving, even in this bad economy," Bailey said. "People are still finding a way to put their money into the kettles even when they have less.
"They are finding it in their heart to still donate."
For more on the Salvation Army bell ringer in Ellensburg, be sure to pick up a copy of Tuesday's print edition of the Daily Record.