DENVER -- Talk about dedication.
The Fie family has been voluntarily ringing bells for the Salvation Army’s Red Kettle campaign for 63 years.
Family patriarch Merrill Fie began the tradition when he moved to Denver in 1956.
“I joined the Kiwanis Club that year,” he said, “and rang for the first time.”
“Think about that,” said Major Mike Dickinson, divisional commander of the Salvation Army. “President Eisenhower was in the White House. Guys and Dolls was the popular film.”
After Fie purchased Deep Rock Water in the 1960s, he encouraged employees and family members to join him in the bell ringing campaign.
Other companies did the same.
“They had CEO days,” he said. “We had a friendly competition with the Federal Reserve Bank and Mountain Bell.”
Fie’s children and grandchildren have become staples on the 16th Street Mall just before Christmas.
“I don’t remember the first time I did bell ringing,” said grandson Brady Anderson, “because I was about two years old.”
Even great-grandchildren are learning how to volunteer.
Maj. Dickinson said it’s a great teaching moment.
“Americans are very generous,” he said, “but children are not natural givers. You have to teach your children and your families to give, and what an example that Merrill and Dora Fie have taught their family-- to give back.”
Dickinson said the Salvation Army Kettle Campaign goes all the way back to 1887.
“It’s the single largest fundraiser for the Salvation Army,” he said. “The money raised helps fund the Crossroads Center, 20 apartments for homeless families, afterschool programs, senior housing and drug and alcohol rehabilitation.”
The Fie family is well aware of what their contributions mean.
“You haven’t had Christmas until you’ve done this and helped others,” Mr. Fie said.
“It’s been a thing our family has always done,” Anderson told Denver7. “It’s not Christmas if we’re not out here the Friday before.”
The 90-year old patriarch said he and his family plan to be out on the mall again next year.
“I hope I can enjoy a few more years,” he said. “My grandsons tell me they’ll continue on and we’ll see a hundred years of Fie family ringing bells.”