Bell ringers

Darius Pipkins, Ben Wallace and Tyler Vaske ring the bell outside the Knoxville Hy-Vee

A flurry of pre-Christmas errands had me hustling into the grocery store. I heard that familiar holiday melody as I scooted in from the cold…


I told the two young bell-ringers to stay warm. I’d rung for two hours the frigid night before, I told them. I gave them empathy, but no money.

My wife sent me for apples, and I picked out enough to keep a dozen doctors away. As I did, I thought of the young bell-ringers, dressed alike in thin nylon sweatsuits. They looked good but they looked cold.

Did their mom send them out like that in the 21-degree temperature chill? Nah, they looked nothing like twins, or ever brothers. I slowed down on the way out and asked.

Turns out they were Knoxville High basketball players. The guys are doing their best on the court this year. They do a lot of good off the court, too. I got some photos, which you'll find on Page 6.

This got me thinking about something that Brent Hanna wrote in last week’s paper about how older folks can hand off good habits to younger folks. I wasn’t clear whether some well-meaning adult made those basketball boys ring the bells out in the cold or if they did it on their own. What matters, though, is that they were out there.

You see this all around in Knoxville. This Saturday morning, high school students will lead the way in organizing a fun run to raise money and food for Helping Hands. The three ringleaders got some adult guidance from the Rotary Club, but the idea and the effort are all theirs.

Later on Saturday, a variety show will raise money for the Knoxville Music Boosters. The boosters make sure the kids are looking and sounding good. They also involve the young musicians in doing good. Several young performers will sing and dance during the show while others will serve as stagehands and run spotlights.

Those basketballers were beating the buzzer with their bell ringing. It’s too late to put money in the red kettle, but both Saturday events will welcome your support.

You can register for the Resolution Run from 9 a.m. to nearly 10 a.m. Saturday at Knoxville High School. The event starts at 10, and you can take part whether you run 5K (3.1 miles) or if you just want to stroll for one mile with a hot chocolate break in the middle.

The “Puttin’ on the Ritz” variety show begins at 7 p.m. Saturday at the Knoxville Performing Arts Center, but the fun begins at 5:45 p.m. with hors-d’oeuvres, mocktail drinks and a display of local artists’ work. You can buy tickets at the box office priced for just the show or for the whole ritzy night.

Both Saturday events have an added benefit to consider. Might we resolve in 2018 to affirm our youth when we catch them in the act of doing good, and to dig a little deeper to help them when we can?

Our youth are the hope of our community. As a new year nears, a hopeful future starts now.

Pat Finan is the managing editor of the Journal-Express. He can be reached in the newsroom at 641-842-2155 or via email at

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