Salvation Army ringers in Holland take bells to next level

Posted at 5:13 PM, Nov 30, 2016
and last updated 2016-11-30 20:00:13-05

HOLLAND, Mich. -- The Salvation Army's red kettles and bell ringers are a sure sign of the holiday season, but two volunteers in Holland are taking their bell ringing duties to the next level.

Larry and Carla Sue are professional handbell players with combined experience of over 50 years.  They even met on a handbell website.

"We fell in love over handbells," Carla tells FOX 17.


When their church started organizing volunteers for the Salvation Army Red Kettle Campaign, they stepped up.

“When we knew it was just one little bell, so we called the Salvation Army office and asked them if they would let us use our handbells instead,” Larry said.

musicThey ran into some trouble when they started out though: there was very little Christmas music written for two players holding four bells each. So together, the Sues arranged their own, and Larry says they now have about two hours of Christmas music.

A few of the songs they play are reminiscent of English church songs from centuries ago when handbells got their start.

Church bell ringers needed something to practice on, so they wouldn't wake up the whole village.

“Somebody made little sets of bells to mimic the church bells,” Carla said.

Playing one bell is simple says Larry.

“You just hold it and you ring it and that’s how you make a sound."

But the Sues hold two in each hand, making for eight bells that form a fantastic symphony.