EAST LIVERPOOL-Majs. Douglas and Stella McGuire will most likely celebrate their 42nd wedding anniversary ringing the bell for a Salvation Army red kettle in their new hometown of East Liverpool.
In the ministry for 18 years, the couple always mark their anniversary during the Salvation Army's busiest time of the year-the weeks before Christmas.
Douglas, 61, and Stella, 60, are the new pastors of the Salvation Army of East Liverpool, succeeding Capts. Gary and Corina Stein. The McGuires transferred to East Liverpool from their most recent assignment-Lorain-about 10 days ago.
Michael Dennis (left) and Ben Keener, both of East Liverpool, button their coats Wednesday for a long day of bell ringing outside the Wellsville Save-a-Lot while Maj. Douglas McGuire looks on. The East Liverpool Salvation Army’s Red Kettle Campaign started on Monday and will continue through Christmas Eve. The Salvation Army is still hiring full-time bell ringers. (Photo by Stephen Huba)
This year's holiday season is extra busy for the McGuires as they unpack boxes and oversee the Red Kettle Campaign and other ministries of the Salvation Army.
"We're a little behind in donations right now," Stella McGuire said. "Normally, the Red Kettle Campaign starts on the first weekend of November."
This year's campaign started on Monday.
The Salvation Army is still looking for volunteers and paid bell ringers. "Good volunteers are hard to find, so we do offer paid positions," she said.
The usual shift for a paid bell ringer is 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. four days a week. Bell ringers must be 18 or older, in good health, have an outgoing personality and be neat and clean.
"We're not working for some large corporation," Douglas McGuire told a group of eight paid bell ringers at the start of their shift on Wednesday. "We're there to help people."
He reminded them to be courteous and to look people in the eye.
The fundraising goal for this year's Red Kettle Campaign is $50,000, Stella McGuire said. Last year, the campaign raised $32,000, making it one of the Salvation Army's biggest fundraisers of the year.
"I think it's a good thing because it is familiar. It's a tradition," she said.
The Salvation Army has been a longtime tradition for both husband and wife: Stella grew up going to church at the Salvation Army's Youngstown Citadel; Douglas started attending there around the fourth grade.
"We actually felt God calling us to full-time ministry even when we were dating," she said.
That calling was deferred, however, as the young couple started a family and pursued their careers. Douglas worked at Republic Steel and, later, a manufacturing company in Girard, Ohio. Stella stayed at home to raise four children, later taking a position with a research firm in Boardman. The couple also has a younger daughter, Giana, 13.
Years before he became an ordained minister, Douglas McGuire was known for playing his cornet for the Red Kettle Campaign at the Southern Park Mall. "We literally didn't see him for six weeks," said Stella, who plays the bariton horn.
All that exposure to the Salvation Army as lay people prepared the McGuires for what was to come.
"It was really a second calling that woke us up," Stella said. "We knew that God was definitely calling us."
The couple took a position as auxiliary captains and spent two years in training for the ordained ministry. In addition to two-and-a-half years in Lorain, the couple served nine years at the Youngstown Citadel and seven years in Cleveland.
As second-career ministers, the McGuires bring "something a little extra" to their ministry, Stella said. "I think we bring maturity and life experience," she said.
That experience includes Douglas losing his job at Republic Steel when the plant closed. "The pink slip was going out, and it was like, 'What in the world are we going to do?'" Stella said. "So when people come through the doors looking for help, we understand it. We've been through it."
Funds from the Red Kettle Campaign help pay for the Salvation Army's programs throughout the year, including the monthly food distribution and utility bill assistance.
"Basically, people just need that helping hand to get them through," Stella said. "People have the same needs everywhere we go-the depth is just a little different."
Stella said the Red Kettle Campaign is ideal for groups and families. To inquire about volunteer or paid opportunities, call the Salvation Army at 330-385-2086.