Douglas County dad and daughter give shoppers more to listen to than the Salvation Army bells ringing

The father-daughter duo from Kensington often perform for shoppers at Cub Foods in Alexandria.

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Tony Bollman and his daughter, Taylor Anderson, sing a song next to the Salvation Army donation kettle at Cub Foods in Alexandria Wednesday. In addition to playing the ukulele, Bollman also plays the harmonica. (Lowell Anderson / Echo Press)

Being a volunteer for the Salvation Army as a bell ringer is just as much a part of the holiday season as Santa and Christmas trees, according to 24-year-old Taylor Anderson.

Anderson started ringing the bell last year after moving back to the area. For her first year, she rang the bell by herself.

This year, however, as often as she can, Anderson partners up with her dad, Tony Bollman, who will be celebrating his 52nd birthday on Dec. 13.

The father-daughter duo, who are from Kensington, give shoppers at Cub Foods in Alexandria a little more to listen to than just the ringing of the bells. The two often perform together with Bollman, an electrician with Vinco, playing the ukulele and harmonica and Anderson, who works in the lab at Alexandria Clinic, singing.

“It is so much fun to bell ring and play music for the Salvation Army,” said Anderson. “We don’t take ourselves too seriously. Seeing people watch us and smile under their masks is a pleasure and a privilege.”


Anderson said it is fun regardless if they do it together or separate as her dad is a volunteer for the Douglas County Sheriff’s Posse and sometimes it is difficult for the two of them to coordinate their schedules. She will sometimes just sing by herself while ringing the bells, which she said is still exciting, fun and lighthearted.

“Being grateful for the season and what I can give, makes bell ringing a special part of my Christmas. The season would not be the same if I didn’t bell ring,” said Anderson.

She said that she grew up doing caroling with churches and also volunteered for Operation Christmas Child. And she said that bell ringing also brings back some great childhood memories of seeing the Salvation Army’s red buckets and hearing the bells ringing during the holiday season.

“Carrying on that tradition is a privilege,” she said.

Anderson and Bollman do bell ringing for two-hour shifts. She encourages others who are interested in bell ringing to sign up.

“If you would like to volunteer, just ask one of us,” she said, adding that this year with COVID-19, it’s been pretty hard on people. To keep serving and helping people throughout the year, Anderson said an increase in donations is needed. She reminded people that if they don’t have cash or change on them, bell ringing stations are set up with a QR code that people can scan with their phones and make a donation electronically.

Stu Mackechney, local service unit member with the Salvation Army of Douglas County, said bell ringers are definitely still needed at all locations – Walmart, Elden’s Fresh Foods, Cub Foods and Viking Plaza Mall. Although he said outside bell ringers at Walmart are the first priority right now. To sign up to be a bell ringer, call 979-219-6602.

Mackechney also said that donations are coming in, but that they are a little bit behind where they were last year.


The budget for this area was set at $72,000, according to Mackechney and will be adjusted depending on how much money is raised. As of Dec. 1, kettlebell donations along with checks that have been mailed in, have amounted to about $39,000, he said. The total amount raised through the QR system, along with Apple Pay and Google Pay isn’t known yet.

In addition, it is unknown how much has been raised through a new initiative to “rescue Christmas.” Walmart and the Salvation Army have partnered up this season by launching the first-ever round up for the Salvation Army at the cash register. Through Dec. 31, cashiers at Walmart will be offering customers the option to round up their purchase to the nearest dollar with that amount being donated to the Salvation Army, said Mackechney.

Donations can be mailed locally to: Salvation Army, c/o Viking Towers, 805 Fillmore, Alexandria, MN 56308 or cellphone users can text the word “KETTLES” to 91999.

“We started early this year and we started strong. People have been generous and we are grateful for that,” said Mackechney. “We hope it continues and people keep being generous to finish just as strong.”

Celeste Edenloff is the special projects editor and a reporter for the Alexandria Echo Press. She has lived in the Alexandria Lakes Area since 1997. She first worked for the Echo Press as a reporter from 1999 to 2011, and returned in 2016 to once again report on the community she calls home.
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