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Charitable Ro: One woman gives at her own expense

"She truly is a wonder," said Miller. "You can't get her to stop ringing that bell."

Miller said that, at times, her devotion has come at the expense of her own well being.

While the Salvation Army can pay its bell ringers minimum wage, doing so would affect the social security benefits that Auntie Ro receives. Benefits that Miller said were insufficient for even her daily needs.

"It was getting that she couldn't even pay her rent," Miller said. So, because Rowina works for the Salvation Army more than 10 hours a day, and without breaking for meals, Miller arranged for her to collect a meal stipend.

"It's only $23 a day," Miller said, "but Auntie Ro rings for us every day she can, so it adds up, and it certainly helps."

As for the meals themselves, Auntie Ro doesn't mind waiting until she's done at 10 p.m. to eat.

"I don't want to miss anybody that wants to give," she said. And besides, there is never a short supply of people that want to get her food or something to drink during her long day.

"I say 'No, thanks, I'll wait until I get home,'" she said. "I don't mind if someone buys me a hot chocolate or coffee, though. I get coffee, hot chocolate out of my ears."

Rowina said she'll ring in the Price Chopper and at the track until she's 100 years old.

"That's my goal " 100 years. I always get people telling me it's not going to be the same without me here, and I wonder if they know something I don't." Auntie Ro, who has 13 great-grandchildren, and who has outlived two husbands, always tells those people that she'll be back next year. "I'll just be a little bit older, I say."

And if they really miss her, they can come see her at the track this summer. And if you find it in your heart to do so, ring the bell for her for a few minutes " because, you see, in the dozen years that Rowina has been working the kettle at the Saratoga Race Course, she has never seen a race.

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