Kiwanis vs. Rotary -- who is the best bell ringer?

Linda Saholt

News Review Correspondent

Look out, Ridgecrest — the competition is on! It’s the Ridgecrest Kiwanis versus the China Lake Rotary, in a bell-ringing competition to benefit the Salvation Army’s annual Red Kettle Fundraising Drive.

Kiwanis members were out last Saturday at Walmart, taking shifts to fill the 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. time slot they requested. Next Saturday, the Rotary team will be out in force, same place, same time, to see who can raise the most money for the Salvation Army.

“It started 12 or 13 years ago,” said Envoy Donna Griffin. “Be-tween the two clubs, they usually bring in close to $2,000. We challenge them at one of their luncheons and pass around a small red kettle to start.”

In past years the two clubs have held their competition the same day, with one club at Walmart and one at Kmart, then switching the following year. This year they chose to compete at the same place, but on two different Saturdays.

“We want to help feed the people,” said Kiwanis President Ying Ming Lee. He held a bell in each hand. “It’s a good cause. There are a lot of service clubs helping people out, and that’s great.

“I used to bell ring in Montana. We really bundled up there. They built a little shack to the side, and we’d come out when people came by. It was too cold to stay out in it all the time. Here in Ridgecrest, it’s easier.”

Lee has lived in Ridgecrest with his family for three years. He has been a member of Kiwanis for many years in other places.

“The bell ringers should be dancing, like they do on YouTube,” he said. “You’d be surprised at the kind of people who give. Some who look like they can’t afford it give, and some who are nicely dressed don’t.”

“There’s still time for other groups to do a competition,” said Griffin. “We still have a week. We’ll ring through the 24th. Clubs, churches, individuals that would like to get involved are welcomed.

“This is how we raise funds in our community in case of disaster or emergency, which can happen 24/7, year round. Like house fires — there have probably been four house fires in the last two months where we have assisted victims. We also assist people with utilities, food programs, medications, glasses — the list goes on.

“This is how we raise the funds that we use all year long.”

Story First Published: 2012-12-19