Smith County first responders raise $6K for Salvation Army in bell ringing competition

Smith County first responders raise $6K for Salvation Army in bell ringing competition
Published: Jan. 25, 2023 at 7:47 PM CST|Updated: Jan. 25, 2023 at 7:49 PM CST
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TYLER, Texas (KLTV) - The Salvation Army crowned a new champion today in the Smith County First Responders Bell Ringing Competition.

Sort of.

“For the second year in a row, we’re proud to have participated for three years, but also we’ve raised the most money the last two years,” Tyler Chief of Police Jimmy Toler said.

The Tyler Police Department raised the most money out of the Smith County first responders, about $1,800 for the Salvation Army. The funds collected in the holiday drive support the shelter and programs like The Angel Tree and community meals.

“It’s always fun. It’s got that nice little banter going back and forth between us and the fire department, and the sheriffs department, and the EMS,” Toler said.

“You don’t want to let anybody down,” Toler said. “We want to do what we can to have officers out there, as we went out there from 8 o’clock in the morning to 8 o’clock at night, we shift it out every hour, for people to understand the importance of giving back to the community.”

Chick-fil-A owner and operator of the South Broadway location Jeff Johnston came up with the challenge between first responders, and the group has competed for three years.

“All four groups work very well together and you see the collective leadership and they pull together,” Johnston said.

This year, the first responders raised about $6,100.

“Man, it’s just great it just warms your heart to see what they can do,” Captain Jeremy Walker said.

“We’re feeding 365 days a year, we’re housing 365 days a year,” Walker said. “When we have fun competitions like this, the money’s going right back into the services here. It is raised here in Smith County, it’s staying in Smith County, and it’s helping our neighbors in need.”