Holiday season in the United States brings a lot of familiar sights, though none may be as iconic as the Salvation Army's Red Kettle campaign. Volunteers from the charity stand outside shops ringing bells and soliciting donations. This practice is the same all across the country except in a town in Wisconsin, where an unexpected volunteer is leading the way: A miniature horse.
Named Tinker, the horse and other more traditional volunteers set up shop in West Bend, Wisc., according to an article in The Associated Press. He uses his mouth to hold and ring the standard red bell and holds a sign that says "Thank You Merry Christmas." He can also bow, give kisses and, most importantly of all to the Salvation Army, he raises 10 times the amount of money than a normal bell ringer.
Salvation Army commander Major Roger Ross told The Post that Tinker, who is 13-years old, has been known to bring in around $2,500 in a day, while a human ringer typically raises $250 in the same time period.
Carol Takacs, one of Tinker's owners, bought the horse 12 years ago with her husband while looking at a property. She fell in love with the mini horse and asked the owner that he be a part of the deal. She got the idea to use Tinker as a bell ringer after seeing one of the Salvation Army volunteers a few years ago, and she thought the horse could help make the standard Red Kettle campaign more interesting.
Before a typical appearance, Takacs spends a half-hour vacuuming Tinker's mane and fur and puts glitter on his hooves, a bell on his tail, and a Santa hat on his head. A pin with the horse's likeness is also given to donors who contribute at least $5.
You can read the full story in The Associated Press.