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Wendy Reuer, Published December 04 2010

Bell-ringing fulfills dream to give back for Arthur woman

ARTHUR, N.D. - Huge snowflakes fell silently Friday afternoon while bell chimes echoed outside the doors of the Arthur Good Samaritan Center. Inside, nearly a dozen preschoolers scuttled shyly into the foyer with quarters in hand, and a huge smile spread across the already beaming face of Lois Pautz.

Pautz, 70, was the bell-ringing culprit, noisily announcing the first-time presence of a Salvation Army Red Kettle Campaign in Arthur. It was a day she had hoped she would see for many years, as a way to give back to an organization that helped her own family in the past.

In the spring of 1972, Pautz’s widowed mother was alone at the family’s rural Petersburg home when lightning struck a nearby tanker, starting a fire that destroyed the home.

Pautz said she doesn’t know who called the Salvation Army, but they were on scene that night offering Pautz’s mother whatever she needed to make it through the life-changing event.

Pautz never forgot the kindness the organization showed her mother and brother, who was also living there at the time.

“I’ve always just been grateful for what they did,” Pautz said.

The former teacher and Good Samaritan staff member hoped to be a part of the Salvation Army’s Red Kettle Campaign one day, ringing bells like her brother Arnold Johnson did in Grand Forks, but she never got the chance. Now a Good Samaritan resident and aided in movement by a wheelchair, ringing bells in Fargo was not a viable option for Pautz.

Activities coordinator Margaret Olson said Pautz came to her asking if the center could have a kettle during its annual Christmas Sale. Olson said when she contacted the Salvation Army, they were more than excited to bring the kettle to Pautz.

Pautz was not the only one excited to ring the golden bells; six other residents signed up to be bell-ringers for the afternoon.

The annual sale of crafts and gifts is designed to allow residents – who often cannot travel to shop – a chance to buy gifts for loved ones, said Good Samaritan Administrator Bruce Bowersox. After about an hour, the sale is then opened to the public.

Olson said she hoped the thickening snow would not dampen the donations by evening.

Regardless, Pautz said having the chance to “ring the bell” and seeing the kids – from the Good Samaritan day care located upstairs in the center – was well worth the sore bell-ringing arm she’ll likely have in the morning.

“I’d do it again. It was fun,” Pautz said.

An estimate of how much the kettle had made was not available Friday night, but Pautz and Olson believed the kettle was filling up fast.

“It’s making a nice jingle,” Olson said.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Wendy Reuer at (701) 241-5530