Now in its 120th year, The Salvation Army’s Red Kettle Campaign is the oldest annual charitable fundraiser of its kind in the United States, helping to raise money for those who need it most in communities nationwide. From its humble beginning as a fundraiser started by a Salvation Army captain in San Francisco in 1891, the Red Kettle Campaign has grown to more than 25,000 bell ringers and raised a record $142 million last year.
Locally, The Salvation Army has been serving the needs of families and individuals in the Tyler community for more than 100 years, providing support for a variety of programs and services including food, shelter, rent and utility assistance, emergency aid, and services for at-risk youth. During this Christmas season more than 2,000 local residents will receive food baskets and toys for their children.
As a new resident of Tyler, this will be Mr. Percy Wang’s first Christmas season to “ring the bell” locally, but he has been ringing the bell for eight years in other communities while showcasing his talent for the violin.
“I started ringing the bell with my violin in 2003 in Detroit, Michigan. Since then, I’ve volunteered with The Salvation Army in the different states in which I’ve lived,” Mr. Wang said. “Because I like to play my violin as part of my bell ringing, I’ve developed an outdoor playing style to cope with weather, equipment, and fatigue issues. I like to use my music to influence people to transfer a bit of their money from their pocket to the red kettle.”
Mr. Wang also volunteers his time to Habitat for Humanity. While living in Birmingham, Alabama, he served as the director of the Asian Drum Organization and volunteered with the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure.
“Through volunteering, I enjoy trying new things that make my time productive for others,” Mr. Wang said.
Mr. Wang is originally from Taiwan. He earned his master’s degree from The University of Texas at Arlington and received his Ph.D. from Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana. Mr. Wang and his wife, Ying-Ying, have been married for 18 years and are the parents of Sean, 15, and Ryan, 11. The Wangs are members of Green Acres Baptist Church.
“My family and I have found Tyler to be a quiet little town where the people are very nice. The Texas Rose Festival was absolutely gorgeous, and we loved all of the festival events,” Mr. Wang said.