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Howard's gift: Even after stroke, 85-year-old helps with bell-ringing

Howard Paulson rings a bell for the Salvation Army as Ashley Halvorson makes a donation Monday in the Osgood Hornbacher's store in Fargo. Paulson decided to ring the bell as he has done in the past despite suffering a stroke. Michael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor

FARGO - A stroke that left Howard Paulson paralyzed on one side didn't stop him from ringing a bell for the Salvation Army.

The 85-year-old Bethany Homes resident spent an hour Monday at the Osgood Hornbacher's raising money for the community.

"He doesn't believe that sitting in the (wheel) chair will stop him from doing what he wants to do," said Joan Saye, Paulson's caregiver.

Paulson had a long history of volunteering for the Salvation Army, dating back to when he owned Farmers State Bank in Rothsay, Minn., said his daughter, Karen Thompson, who lives in Denver.

"It's very important to him to give back to his community," Thompson said.

Paulson, a veteran of World War II and the Korean War, suffered a stroke in March that left him paralyzed on his left side and has limited his speech.

"All he's capable of doing is moving his right hand," Thompson said.

On Monday, Paulson used his right hand to ring the bell as customers dropped donations in the kettle.

Paulson has four children and 10 grandchildren and teaches them to share their money, Thompson said.

"He's all about sharing money, sharing your gifts with other people," Thompson said. "It's such a privilege for him to give to society."

Gerri Leach, community relations director for the Salvation Army, said bell-ringers are still needed this season.

"Almost anybody can help us ring a bell from the smallest toddler to the more senior citizens to those that are handicapped," Leach said.

How to help

The Salvation Army is still looking for bell-ringer volunteers for the Red Kettle Campaign. Call (701) 356-2688 to schedule a time. Shifts are Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.; 12:30 to 3 p.m.; 3 to 5:30 p.m.; and 5:30 to 8 p.m. The campaign runs through Dec. 24.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Amy Dalrymple at (701) 241-5590