Customers Help RI Bell Ringer Find Full-Time Work

The sound of the Salvation Army bell is a familiar one this time of year. Cheryl Beaulieu just never thought she would be the one ringing it.

“Never in a million years,” Beaulieu said. “If you asked me a year ago if I would be doing this…it was not even in the plans, not even in the plans.”

Last Christmas Cheryl lost her job as a state worker. She took this temporary job to try and hang on. It pays $7.40 an hour.

“I'm 54 years old. I've lost everything,” Beaulieu said while ringing the bell outside Eastside Marketplace in Providence. “I can't find a job.”

When someone asks Cheryl what her story is, she tells them, and the customers have started to respond.

“I get her coffee, tea, food or whatever she needs,” Gregory Morse said.

But Cheryl has started to receive a lot more than that.

“I've had one customer say she's going to get me a haircut for Christmas to look more professional,” Cheryl said. “Another saying that she's going to give me a job offer as a financial planner.”

They are promises that Cheryl clings to because when the bell stops ringing here on Christmas Eve, her job will be over.

“There are 6 days left, then we are out of work,” Cheryl said while choking back tears. “Then I don't know what I'm going to do. I asked Santa for a job for Christmas.”

Four hours before her shift ended on Monday, her phone rang. It was a call from a customer who wants her to come in for an interview tomorrow night. Cheryl could not help but smile and hope for a better 2012.

“It's going to be a good year. It's going to be my year. Definitely. Definitely.”