No-bell peace prized at Clark’s |

No-bell peace prized at Clark’s

Brent Gardner-Smith

Chip Munday, building manager of the North Mill Station in Aspen where Clark’s Market is, has a memory of the Salvation Army bell-ringers of his youth.

He remembers how they would stand next to big kettles, wearing military-style coats, ringing loud bells to encourage Christmas shoppers to drop some change for a good cause.

And in his current position, he also has fresh memories of how the sound of a barking dog reverberates under the eaves in the courtyard outside Clark’s.

So when Aspenite Jim Markalunas approached Munday about a Salvation Army bell-ringer being stationed just outside the market’s doors, Munday thought it would be best for his tenants if the ringer lost his bell and simply encouraged giving through his quiet presence.

“That was our request,” said Munday, who was concerned about infringing on his tenants’ rights to a peaceful building. “We were going to see if it would work without the bell.”

But upon seeing the Salvation Army volunteer standing in silence one day last week, something didn’t ring true for Munday.

“I felt uncomfortable when I first saw him,” said Munday, “and I thought maybe this wasn’t a good idea.”

Munday then saw members of the Carbondale Rotary Club using smaller bells to raise money for the Salvation Army outside the Carbondale City Market. He figured those would work just fine in the courtyard outside Clark’s.

“The bell is much smaller than the ones I was used to as a kid,” he said.

So now, the volunteers in front of Clark’s will be given a small bell to ring in the spirit of giving.

Meanwhile, in front of Aspen’s City Market, look for City Councilman Jim Markalunas to make a return engagement as a captain in the Salvation Army. Last December, Markalunas raised $4,000 by vigorously ringing a bell next to his kettle.

“Jim asked me for a big bell,” said Karolyn Spencer, a case worker at the Glenwood Springs office of the Salvation Army. “Last year, when he returned his bell, he said, `This is truly a holy bell, because I rang the hell out of it.’ “

Last season, $30,000 was raised for the Salvation Army’s Glenwood Springs office from kettles in Aspen, El Jebel, Glenwood, New Castle and Parachute. The money is given to folks who need help getting past an eviction notice, finding a place to stay on a winter’s night or getting a ride to Denver for a fresh start.

“Basically, there is a safety net of services that are available for people,” said Spencer, “and a large majority of them work in Aspen.”

The Salvation Army needs help this year to keep its bells ringing, and volunteers just might hear the sound of the elusive Christmas spirit.

“What I found out was that my feet were getting cold standing there and I tell you what, you can relate a little bit better to those who might have to spend a night out in the cold,” said Markalunas. “You get to shivering out there and you ring that bell a little harder.”

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