"When you think about the children that otherwise would not have a Christmas without your giving it makes it all worthwhile," Salvationist Dexter Darrington said.

Darrington said he has been ringing the bell for three years now and it has become a passion.

"I started out volunteering and then I got addicted to it," he said. "It is for a good cause. I do it for the less fortunate kids."

Today The Salvation Army is known for its cheerful bell ringers. But it was founded by a well known evangelist on the streets of England whose first mission was not to feed souls but to convert souls to the gospel of Jesus Christ.

According to The Salvation Army website, in 1852 William Booth began his ministerial career on the streets of London. He preached the gospel of Jesus Christ to the poor and homeless. Some of his first converts were thieves, prostitutes, drunks and gamblers. He preached hope and salvation to those who were truly hungry for something more than just one free meal.

The churches in England were afraid to accept the Christians converted by Booth because of their tainted pasts, but Booth encouraged his converts to sing on the streets and convert others.

By 1874 there were 1,000 volunteers and 42 evangelists serving under the name of The Christian Mission.

They eventually became known as the Salvation Army, when Booth read a printers proof that said, "The Christian Mission is a volunteer army," he crossed out "volunteer army" and wrote in "salvation army."

Volunteers became known as soldiers for Christ, calling themselves Salvationists, as they are still known.

The army suffered persecution and converts were even mocked and attacked, but the movement still spread all the way to the United States, and around the world.

Below is the mission statement for the Salvation Army:

"The Salvation Army, an international movement, is an evangelical part of the universal Christian church. Its message is based on the Bible. Its ministry is motivated by the love of God. Its mission is to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and to meet human needs in His name without discrimination."

Darrington said, he and others will be ringing the bell for the Salvation Army at Super One, Wal-Mart and Walgreens until December 23.

For more information call the Salvation Army at 325.1755 or to donate, visit them at 105 Hart St. in Monroe.