Two volunteer bell-ringers for the Salvation Army in central Iowa met at the red kettle a few years ago — and the chance meeting eventually led to wedding bells. Doug Erickson says he only planned to duck into the Windsor Heights Walmart Superstore to pick up dinner just before Christmas of 2004 but spotted the bell-ringer who would later become his bride.
Doug Erickson says: "I used to grab my groceries there and whatever else I was looking for. I always check out the charity of the Salvation Army. It’s why I stopped at the entrance. We just talked and she’s friendly and we visited for a little bit." Erickson continued finding reasons to stop by the store and eventually asked the bell-ringer for her phone number.
Leanna Erickson says she never took the job ringing the bell at the kettle expecting to come away with a life partner. They were married in October of 2006. She says, laughing: "I love Salvation Army but I didn’t think (they’d) be bringing me a husband. That’s what they did. Just being a bell-ringer, you never know what you’ll come across."
This season, Leanna Erickson is a bell-ringer outside a Des Moines grocery store and Doug is joining her. She says it continues to be a fulfilling experience to raise money for the charity. She says: "They have helped me in the past and they do so many other good benefits for people worldwide. Plus, watching the little children, letting them ring your bell, see their smiles, watching the older people. I get a pleasure and a joy when I go out there, no matter what the weather. You just learn to put on an extra coat."