ST. LOUIS — She stands outside of the Schnucks in south city with enthusiasm, ringing her bell.
"Sometimes I have two bells," said Lesley Richardson.
She greets people and wishes them well.
"You have a great day ma'am," she said to someone passing by.
"Lesley has just a lovable, joyful spirit," said Lt. Grant Holloway with the Salvation Army.
You could say that Lesley Richardson is the ambassador for the season.
"Yes, I'm definitely the welcoming committee," Lesley said, before wishing someone a good morning.
But what she really is, is a motivator.
"I try to put my best foot forward so that we can warm some hearts and fill some kettles."
And the people respond by stuffing her kettle. The funds are vital for the Salvation Army.
"We base our budget based on what we are able to raise during the Christmas season," Lt. Holloway explained.
"Everyone who needs, as long as we've got the funds, we are going to dole it out," Lesley said.
The Salvation Army is hoping to raise $6.1 million to help the needy this holiday season.
Lesley knows first-hand what it's like to be on the receiving end.
"I've kind of always been on the back end, the lower scale of life," she said.
Lesley grew up an orphan. There were times when she had no place to stay.
"I was in a homeless shelter for 18 months. So, I know what it's like to be on the very, very bottom."
Now that she's on her feet, Lesley wants to be that example of what a little money in the kettle can do for someone's attitude about life and their future.
"Your change provides change for someone else's life," said Lt. Holloway.
"It makes you feel good when you can help somebody else, and the blessing comes back to you 10 fold. It really does," Lesley said.
If you want to donate to the Salvation Army, drop off your change in the red kettles outside area stores. You also can text "KETTLE" to 80888 and reply YES to give $10.