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Familiar Figure Rings Bell for Charity

Vicki Bolton would have put money in the kettle anyway.  But she got a bonus Friday when she looked up and found State Sen. Bob Duff ringing the Salvation Army bell outside the Main Avenue Wal-Mart. "His kid was in pre-K with my daughter for four years," said Bolton, who has since moved to New York.

She returns to Norwalk to see the doctors she is familiar with. While here, she went shopping. "I actually saw the veterans, so I went back in to get the toys," she said, of the men standing near Duff to collect Toys for Tots . "And then on the way out I saw him. It was nice of him to stand there."

Last year, the staff at Wal-Mart invited Duff to ring the Salvation Army bell and collect donations. He was also told he could bring another charity of his choosing, which was Toys for Tots.

This year, the Salvation Army invited Duff, and again the Marine Corps veterans joined the senator to get toys. The bonus was that Wal-Mart gave $1,000 to each non-profit, this year and last.

Peter Havens was collecting for Toys for Tots. "It's slow," he said of this year's toy drive. "But it's picking up. Hopefully it will get better."

The drive ends Dec. 22.

Major Ariel Guzman, commanding officer of the Norwalk Salvation Army, said there are 12 days left in the organization's red kettle campaign. With $73,000 collected so far, the Army is on track to match the $100,000 it got last year. But Guzman is hoping for $12,000 more. That is because the need has grown. Last year the Army fed 102 families. This year it is feeding 137 to 150 families, he said.

"For two hours of standing here ringing the bell in the bitter cold, it is worth it," Duff said. "We raise money for two great causes that help a lot of families."

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