Northern Division: Serving every county in Minnesota and North Dakota
Michael Gorr rings a bell at Mall of America

Beloved bell ringer’s legacy lives on

Added on Tuesday, November 27, 2018

There will never be another Salvation Army bell ringer quite like Michael Gorr. No other volunteer rang for more hours in the Twin Cities, nobody did it better, and nobody loved it more.

Gorr lived with cerebral palsy but never let the disorder stop him from spreading joy. Every Christmas season, he rang bells at Mall of America for hundreds of hours and raised thousands of dollars. In 2017 alone, he logged 284 hours and collected almost $9,000.

Sadly, Gorr passed away in April. But his legacy of service lives on – not only in spirit, but through his former caregiver, Joe Payette.

Joe Payette rings in honor of Michael GorrDuring Thanksgiving weekend, Payette and his wife Danika saluted Gorr by spending an entire day bell ringing at Mall of America, at the exact same kettle Gorr used to staff. They were joined by friends and family who also wanted to pay tribute.

“We want to ring the bell as a way to honor Michael for his service to The Salvation Army,” said Payette, who created a poster of Gorr and displayed it by his kettle (pictured).    

Payette worked as Gorr’s personal care attendant for three years. He often transported Gorr to and from his kettle shifts.

“Every day was an adventure for us,” added Payette, who sometimes took up a bell and rang with Gorr. “He never let his disability slow him down.”

Michael Gorr poses with Joe and Danika Payette at the couple's weddingThe two were very close. Gorr even attended the Payettes’ wedding during fall 2017 (pictured).

Payette will never forget Gorr’s passion for serving others through the work of The Salvation Army.   

The Salvation Army will never forget Gorr, either.

“Let all the bell ringers know that they are important,” Gorr said proudly, while bell ringing last Christmas season. “When they are ringing, they are helping out so many people.” (Read a feature story about Gorr.)

Ready, set, ring!

You, too, can help carry on Michael Gorr’s legacy of service by signing up to bell ring.

Michael GorrWith more than 370 kettle locations in the Twin Cities, bell ringing is a fun and easy way to make a positive impact in the community. During one two-hour shift, you’ll raise an average of $30 per hour – enough to provide a homeless person with a night of shelter, a hot shower and a warm meal.

The Twin Cities Salvation Army hopes to raise $11.9 million during its 2018 Christmas Campaign, which runs through Dec. 31. About $2.5 million of the goal is expected to come from kettle donations.

Poverty is an everyday battle that families don’t always win. Thankfully, there is an army of loving people like you who fight on their behalf. Your generosity puts food on their table, presents under their tree, and joy in their hearts. Join the fight for good by donating online or at a red kettle, becoming a volunteer bell ringer, or recruiting your own army of fundraisers at Learn more about how The Salvation Army fights poverty in your community.