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Remembering Clint and Micky

Kirsten George of Albany, N.Y., discovered her love of volunteering while watching a video of a man struggle to free himself from a tangled seatbelt. His daughter caught the hilarious event on video back in 2015 and it went viral.

The frustrated passenger was Clint Chadbourne, a resident of Portland, Maine. In the video, his wife Bonnie tries to get him loose. The mishap is funny and warm, as it is clear that Clint is never in any real danger. Instead, he insists that the seatbelt, wrapped around his belly, is defective. He says that the situation has him feeling “hydrophobic” and wonders why he doesn’t  just return the car as he has a mind to do.

“The comments posted under the video by people who knew Clint and Bonnie, said what good, loving, and funny people they were,” says Kirsten.

Kirsten was deeply touched by the video. In 2018, she reached out to Bonnie on Facebook. They struck up a friendship and talked about their families and how Clint had become a beloved figure in their community; not just because of his seatbelt incident, but for something completely different.

“In 2014, Micky, Bonnie and Clint’s oldest grandson, died while trying to save a woman from drowning,” says Kirsten. “Since then, Clint had volunteered as a Salvation Army bell ringer in his home city of Portland. He did it as a tribute to Micky.”

Instead of ringing a traditional Army red bell, Clint rang a round silver bell that Micky had given to him as a gift. It was identical to the bell Santa Claus gave to the protagonist in the movie “The Polar Express.” In that popular Christmas story, only people who believed in Christmas could hear the bell ring. Both Micky and Clint loved the movie.

Kirsten was also moved when she learned about Clint’s tribute to Micky. Bell ringing had been something she always wanted to do herself.

A special honor

In November, Clint passed away after a battle with a cancer. Kirsten told Bonnie that she would ring the Salvation Army bell for her husband and their grandson.

“I thought, Even though I’m not in their city, I can still honor them by doing this in their name,” says Kirsten. She even put a personal touch on her bell, just as Clint had put on his. On her bell were the words “In Memory of Clint 2020, Micky 2014.“

“I sent Bonnie a picture to let her know that I was thinking of their family as I rang my bell. It meant a lot to her that, even years later and miles away, they were still touching people’s lives,” says Kirsten. “I pray that God can make me as strong as He made Clint who turned that painful tragedy of losing Micky into something positive.”

As a bell ringer, Kirsten learned about the Salvation Army’s work and how it still affects people. For example, she met a man in his sixties who said that, during the holidays, he always carried some cash in his pocket in case he came across a red kettle.

“He remembered the year when the only Christmas gift he received was a toy truck from The Salvation Army. He never forgot that kindness,” says Kirsten.“Sometimes, people come up to me and say, ‘You must be so cold outside here ringing the bell,” says Kirsten. “I say, ‘Yes, I do feel cold. But when my day is done, I go home to a warm house and a warm meal. The Salvation Army is helping people who can’t do those things.”

by Hugo Bravo