Salvation Army bell ringers were silenced this season inside a Maryland mall after complaints came in from neighboring merchants that the clanging was too loud.

Valley Mall in Hagerstown told the charity to replace the clappers inside their bells with paper clips for a quieter ring.

The Salvation Army's Maj. Robert Lyle said that the three volunteers inside the mall have complied with the request. The two stationed outside the shopping center still have the louder-sounding bells, he said.

The charity's workers traditionally ring bells during the holiday season to get passersby to drop donations for the poor into their red kettles.

The complaints about the noise came from kiosk- and cart-based businesses in hallways near the bell ringers, according to Valley Mall Marketing Director Brian Kaltenbaugh.

Lyle said he can sympathize.

Salvation Army bells elsewhere around Washington County will ring at full volume, Lyle told the Hagerstown Herald-Mail.

The charity is aiming to raise about $100,000 for the needy this year in spite of the nation's economic woes, according to the Herald-Mail.

“So far, 1,126 families have applied for help, 200 more than last year,” Lyle told the newspaper.

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The Associated Press contributed to this report.