Self Help Begins Annual Bell-Ringing Fundraiser

Morrie Pongratz of Los Alamos is a bell-ringer in 2018. Courtesy/Self Help


Did you know?

Los Alamos County has its very own Salvation Army outpost—Self Help, Inc, a longstanding local nonprofit serving people in need.

The Salvation Army contracts with Self Help to implement an emergency assistance program for Los Alamos County. This means that all Salvation Army funds raised locally stay local, and are used by Self Help to help people in Los Alamos County who are struggling with needs such as food and shelter!

Red-clad Salvation Army bell-ringers raising money for those in need are a familiar sight at Smith’s each holiday season, and 2019 will be no different. Our volunteers will be out each weekend and some weekdays at both Smith’s locations.

In 2018, the bell-ringing effort raised more than $19,000, which has helped More than 70 local families so far this year with needs such as rent, utilities, emergency lodging, and vital prescriptions.

Self Help receives requests for assistance from families in need, and coordinates with landlords, the utility department, the hospital, and other vendors to make sure needs are met. All funds raised in Los Alamos County are applied directly to helping neighbors in need—they don’t go toward Self Help or Salvation Army’s overhead.

Who is Self Help, Inc?

Though the Salvation Army is a faith-based entity, Self Help is a 501(c)3 and is not faith-based—its work with the Salvation Army is just a small part of its vast work throughout northern New Mexico. Formed in 1969 here in Los Alamos, Self Help provides financial assistance for basic needs, seed grants for education and entrepreneurship, and consultations to connect people with local social service resources.

In 2018, Self Help assisted 400 families directly through small grants, and another 1,300 with information, consultations, and referrals. About 20 percent of these families were from Los Alamos County, almost all of whom were helped entirely with funds raised by bell-ringers. Any Los Alamos County resident is eligible for help in a time of need.

Join us!

For the 2018 season, we are in need of volunteers to ring bells in two hour shifts Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from Nov. 29 to Dec. 24, as well as in the late afternoon in the three days before Thanksgiving (Nov. 25-27). If you would be interested in this joyful and low-commitment volunteer opportunity, reach out to Self Help at or via phone at 505.662.4666 to sign up, or contact the Los Alamos Volunteer Association at 505.662.8923. 

In past years, musical and theater groups have also been a festive addition to the fund-raising effort. We invite performers to volunteer their talents during any shifts—the more the merrier. Ringing the bell also makes a good team-building activity for staff teams or volunteer groups. 

About the Salvation Army

William Booth and Catherine Booth founded The Salvation Army in 1865 as a means to help the suffering souls throughout London. They served those who were not willing or able to attend – or even allowed into – a traditional churches/charities. Their mission was to serve the most destitute, and the ministry grew and became a worldwide organization.  Each year, thanks to generous donations, The Salvation Army serves nearly 30 million Americans – or one person every second – from a variety of backgrounds. People receive assistance according to their need and each community’s capacity to help – regardless of race, gender, ethnicity or sexual orientation.