Adversity doesn't stop Salvation Army bell ringer in Meridian

Paula Merritt/The Meridian Star

Wanda Williams, a Salvation Army bell ringer, rings bells as form of therapy after losing her leg in a car accident. 

Wearing a gray hat and a badge that says "Wanda", Wanda Williams sits outside Bonita Lakes Mall in Meridian, ringing a bell.

And even though she's in a wheelchair, she stays busy, spreading holiday cheer as a bell ringer for the Salvation Army. Williams considers the activity a form of therapy, as she learns to cope with not being able to walk. 

“I just started last week and I enjoy just sitting out here ringing the bells," Williams said. "I love helping the Salvation Army, even though I have an amputation."

Williams, a first-year bell ringer, helps the organization's mission by collecting donations in a red kettle. 

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The money raised during The Salvation Army Red Kettle Campaign helps those in need throughout the year, according to the agency's website.

Lt. Tamara Robb, with the Meridian Salvation Army, said if it wasn't for  volunteers or paid bell ringers, services might be slim for local residents. Being a bell ringer also provides a little extra income for those who need help during the holidays, she said. 

Williams was not always in a wheelchair. After getting into a car accident, she got gangrene on her left leg. Her leg got infected, then had to be amputated. 

After the accident, her rehabilitation counselor suggested she get a job with the Salvation Army.

The work keeps her active, she said. 

“It gives me exercise," she said. "And it gives me enough energy to run this wheelchair on my own." 

Williams hopes that when people see her in a wheelchair, they know that adversity isn't going to hold her back.

If she can be a bell ringer with one leg, people with two legs can be one as well, she said.  Through the Christmas season, Williams will be at her usual spot at the mall, from 10 a.m. until 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday.

The only day she's not there is Sunday — that day is reserved for church.

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