Holidays

92-year-old Salvation Army volunteer rings in holiday joy in Clearwater

CLEARWATER, Fla. (WFLA) - A Salvation Army volunteer is ringing in holiday joy outside a Clearwater Publix. 

At 92 years young, Alfred Thomas -- better known as "Poppy"-- has become a holiday staple outside the store on South Highland Avenue. The life-long electrician became a bell ringer six years ago as a way to give back. 

"My favorite part is greeting the people," Poppy explained. "I try not to miss anyone."

Nine hours a day, six days a week Poppy rings the bells. Every ring is accompanied by a smile, a warm greeting, and if you're lucky, some sage wisdom from a life well-lived. 

"A smile is worth more than money," he said. 

As Poppy stands outside collecting hand outs for the Salvation Army's holiday fundraising effort, shoppers say he's also handing out holiday cheer. Dave Parker lives just around the block and says it's hard to put into words the simple joy the bell ringer brings. 

"I mean, this is a beautiful thing," Parker said. "When you have people that want to connect with people." 

Poppy says, Lord willing, he has no plans to put down the bells anytime soon. 


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