Hey, thanks for reading. The Salvation Army is a charity organization here in the US (and other parts of the world) who have a very well-known tradition. Every year around Christmas, they get thousands of volunteers who stand in front of store entrances all over the country with a big red pot (for donations) and the volunteers ring a hand-held bell all day long. If you ever see or hear one you'll never forget it because it really is quite loud and intrusive.
As for what happened to his family.....I had it in mind that he was a war veteran who couldn't handle the world when he returned home. He basically drove his family away trying to deal with his war memories. I only had 199 words so I didn't have much space for background but....that's what I was imagining as I wrote it. Thanks for asking.