For eight years, Jerry and Fatima Garcia and their sons, Timmy and T.J., have volunteered to be bell ringers for the Salvation Army’s Red Kettle Campaign in the city of Tracy.
Initially, the couple thought bell ringing would be a good way for their sons to fulfill their community service requirements. A short time into it, Jerry Garcia said, he and his wife realized it was a satisfying way for them to ring in the season, too.
“It’s part of our tradition for the holidays,” Jerry Garcia said inside Raley’s, 2550 S. Tracy Blvd., ringing a bell with Fatima and their 16-year-old son, Timmy, on Wednesday, Dec. 11.
“We started the Sunday before Thanksgiving and we’ll go to Christmas,” he said.
Two or three times a week, the family volunteers to ring from 4 to 6 p.m.
“It’s a way of giving back,” Fatima Garcia said with a smile on her face. “Every October, I call Myra (Casey) to schedule us as bell ringers.”
Casey is the coordinator for the Salvation Army in the city of Tracy.
This year marks the first time the family has gone out to ring without T.J., who has left home to attend college, Jerry Garcia said.
Younger brother Timmy has picked up the volunteer reins and learned to enjoy the annual tradition.
“As a little kid, I usually complained,” Timmy Garcia said. “I used to think it was super boring. Now I don’t complain. It makes me feel good.”
Timmy Garcia said his attitude changed when he started attending Kimball High School as a freshman three years ago. He said he enjoys telling his peers about being a bell ringer and how important it is for the community.
“It isn’t about me or what I get (out of it),” he said. “It’s about the community and giving back. What we get here goes back to (Tracy) Interfaith Ministries and McHenry House (Tracy Family Shelter).”
He said his favorite part is seeing smiles on the faces of those who put some green into his red kettle.
“That’s what keeps me going,” Timmy Garcia said. “I look forward to doing it. I get joy out of it. It’s the holiday season, and it’s good to see that smile. It’s worth all the hours we do.”
Even after he goes off to college, which he hopes will be at Harvard University in a year, his parents plan to keep the family tradition alive by volunteering each year for the Salvation Army.
Anyone looking to volunteer can call 836-2346.
• Contact Denise Ellen Rizzo at 830-4225 or firstname.lastname@example.org.