MURRIETA (CBSLA.com) — A Salvation Army major rang in a new record Sunday after completing 150 straight hours of bell-ringing.
Maj. Marcelino “Butch” Soriano, 47, set up his kettle and took up his bell, sounding out that familiar cry of the season, at 4 a.m. Monday in Murrieta. He set his record at 150 hours in celebration of the Salvation Army’s 150 years in existence and its 124th annual Red Kettle Campaign, during which bell-ringers seek donations outside stores throughout the holiday season.
By Friday, he broke the previous record, set when he and two other bell-ringers completed 105 hours, Salvation Army spokesperson Kathy Lovin said.
Soriano kept going for another two days until he hit his milestone at 10 a.m. Sunday.
“The reality is that I was sure that I would not be able to accomplish this quest on my own strength,” said Soriano, moments after setting his record. “I needed God’s strength.”
According to the organization’s rules, Soriano earned five minutes of rest for every continuous hour he rang his bell. He had to stand the entire time and could only eat, sit, go to the bathroom or nap during his five-minute breaks. He was allowed to drink something, as long as it didn’t get in the way of his ringing the bell.
His first real test came at about the 51st hour, when his feet began to ache and throb. By the 84th hour, his feet were severely swollen.
“I was like, I don’t know if I’m going to be able to keep going,” Soriano said.
An hour later, the Salvation Army said “a stranger who had no idea of the pain he was in offered a bit of powerful support.”
“In the 85th hour, there was a gentleman who came behind me, he put a hand on me and prayed for me,” Soriano recalled. “A lot of the discomfort came out of me.”
The bell-ringer was struck with another surge of endurance when a woman came up to donate and he noticed on her shirt was written Bible verse “Philippians 4:13” — “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” — a phrase Soriano said has motivated him in the past.
“I was at a very low point, where it was very uncomfortable,” Soriano said. “God reminded me because that verse was on that person’s shirt.”
After Soriano broke the record, he said sleep would have to wait: “Actually, right now I’m going to change so I can go to church.”