A Utah man with terminal lung cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease fulfilled his dying wish on Thursday when he showed up in freezing weather to ring a Salvation Army bell one last time.
“This is going to be my last Christmas,” Doug Holladay told KUTV-TV, noting that some doctors said he might not even live long enough to see the holiday later this month. “I’m going to make it count. That’s why I’m here.”
Holladay’s personal story sheds light on why the man chose one of his last days on earth to humbly ring a bell for the Christian group.
He became involved with the Salvation Army 15 years ago when struggling with drug and alcohol addiction, Deseret News reported.
Afterward, he started volunteering, crediting the organization with showing him love and helping him to overcome his addictions. When Holladay felt like he might slip back into old habits, he would call his friends at the Salvation Army to help keep him afloat.
So with doctors telling him that he may not see another Christmas — and with donations to the Salvation Army down this year — he decided to give back.
Despite being in a wheelchair and on oxygen, Holladay showed up at a local Wal-Mart in Riverdale, Utah, Thursday and rang the bell throughout the day, encouraging those coming in and out of the store to put money into the red kettles.
He braved the 15-degree weather and wore winter clothing to keep warm. Others inspired by his actions came out to help raise funds.
His mother, Dorothy, showed up with some money to help her son make his goal of filling up three kettles, and praised the organization for helping turn her son’s life around.
“Salvation Army has been his salvation,” his mother said.
Wells Fargo donated coins and one man drove to the site and gave $100 in one dollar bills, KUTV reported.
Others helped Holladay in different ways. Walmart provided him with a heater and one customer purchased an extra blanket to help keep him warm.
For Holladay, it was all about repaying an organization that changed his life.
He said “God bless” to people as they put money into the kettle, encouraging those who couldn’t afford to donate to give of their time, noting that they would learn the benefits and rewards of helping those in need.
While Holladay originally said he’d stay into the night to reach his goal, he ended up nearly filling the third kettle by 1:30 p.m., The Salt Lake Tribune reported.
“My message is: It’s better to give than to receive,” Holladay told KSL-TV.
(H/T: Deseret News)
Featured image via KUTV-TV