Tag Archives: salvation army

The Bells Are Ringing

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I’m sure you’ve seen them!  Those bell ringers wearing red and big smiles at the entrance to your favorite store.  They are ringing bells to get your attention (and your donation!)  These folks are volunteers hoping to raise money for the Salvation Army so that the Salvation Army can serve members of your community.  They are generally good people with a heart to help and they want to give you the opportunity to help too.

Like you, I give money to all sorts of organizations, throughout the year, but there is just something special about being a part of the giving that takes place at that red kettle with the sound of bells in the background.  Maybe it’s nostalgia or tradition, but there’s nothing like it. Fortunately, I have not ever needed the Salvation Army’s services, but I do look forward to supporting them each year.  I am already planning my strategy.  I hope you will too.

I intend to do the largest part of my kettle contributions at my local store so that my donation goes to my closest neighbors in need, but I do not want to miss out on the joy of giving at other kettles along my way! This year, I hope you’ll join me as I pledge to practice the 5 B’s of Kettle Giving.

  1. Be Prepared – You know they are going to be there when you go shopping.  Put some change in your pockets to quickly drop in.  No fiddling with your purse or wallet and it won’t slow you down a bit.
  2. Be a Blessing – In addition to giving your coins, give your thanks to the person ringing the bell.  You will be blessing them by donating, but you can also bless them by thanking them for their contribution too.
  3. Be Creative – Where will that cash in your pockets come from? Start now by giving this some thought.  Stop spending your change and save it for the kettle.  Clean off the top of your dresser, your dryer and under your couch, you may find some coins there.  Check your old handbags, coat pockets and car ashtray.  If your motive is pure, you’ll be surprised where this extra money can come from & you’ll be able to contribute.
  4. Bring a Friend! Encourage your friends to do what you are doing.  Let them share in the spirit of giving.  Teach your children to give and give them a change purse to take out with them.  We can’t do this alone.  Encourage others to join in!
  5. Be Kind.  Even if you don’t have coins to drop in the kettle, greet the bell ringer with a smile and a “hello” or “Merry Christmas.”  Don’t avoid eye contact.  Just wish them well.  I once walked by someone asking for donations and said, “Sorry I can’t help today.”  He cheerily replied, “That’s ok.  God Bless You.”  Regardless of my lack of giving, his comment brightened my day.  Even when you can’t give a donation, you can give a smile.

Last year I had the opportunity to be in New York City during the Christmas Shopping season.  My daughter and I had a wonderful time taking our pocket full of ones and seeking out the bell ringers to put in our donation.  Instead of feeling awkward about not wanting to dig for a donation, it was part of our mission and it was fun!  This year, I have been putting loose change into a piggy bank.  I’m excited to go shopping with a pocket full of change to share.  Join me!  You’ll be glad you did!

Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.  — 2 Corinthians 9:7
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Bell Ringing Blessing

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It’s on my calendar.  An annual appointment that I look forward to each year.  Squashed in between Christmas parties, shopping, church pageant practice & violin recitals is Salvation Army bell ringing with my mother.  When I was first asked if I would don a red apron and stand by the kettle at the local grocery store in the freezing cold for a couple of hours, I said, “yes.”  Not because I had felt a special call to this position, but because I was asked and I didn’t have a good excuse not to.  Was I looking forward to it? Probably not, but it was only for a couple of hours and I would be visiting with my mom.  It didn’t seem like a big sacrifice so I agreed.  I have done it ever since.

What started out as an obligation has turned into an incredible blessing.  Spending time with my mom is always a good thing, but seeing the community through the eyes of a bell ringer has been life changing.  I am utterly amazed at how generous this community is.  I expected some people to drop a couple of spare coins that were in the bottom of their coat pocket into the kettle, but I had not expected how intentional people are with their giving.  People in a hurry to rush into the store for milk, bread or toilet paper, stop and take the time to open their purses, open their wallets and get some bills to fold and place in the slot of the kettle.  They stop.  They pause.  They give.  On the way out of the store, with their arms full of packages, I’ve seen them set down their bags, take off their gloves, struggle with getting their wallets out of their back pockets and give. Not just the spare change, but the money that they have earned and placed in their wallets for a purpose.  I’m sure they aren’t expecting to give when they leave home in the morning, but when they see the kettle and hear the bells, they donate.  They feel called to help the Salvation Army and hence, help their community.

This year I have been asked to be the area coordinator for the Red Kettle Drive.  I am honored to hold this position as I ask people about donating a couple of hours of their hectic holiday season to ring the bell.  If they’ve done it in the past, they are quick to agree to help again.  Obviously, their experience matches mine.  They have found that two hours of bell ringing has lifted their spirits and taken the focus off of the hustle and bustle of shopping and into the true spirit of the season, the season of giving.

When you see a kettle, I’d like you to have some information:

First off, the money that you place in that kettle remains in the community that it is in.  Isn’t that amazing?  Our area includes 5 different small zip codes, but it’s good to know that your neighbors will be benefitting from your donation.  Currently this area has been receiving about 5 calls a week for help.  Did you know your neighbors needed you this much?

Approximately 87% of your donation goes to the actual person in need.

The Salvation Army has been around since 1865 and in the United States since 1886.  Talk about an established charity!

Your donation helps feed the hungry, house the homeless and help the addicted plus a lot more.  It is hoped that an hour of bell ringing will provide a homeless person with one night of lodging and 3 meals.

The Salvation Army is actually a church that is serving people that aren’t sitting in pews.  They believe they are called to roll up their sleeves and get to work to meet the material and emotional needs of a person before they can minister to their spiritual needs.

When you are giving, please recognize what a difference you are making. It’s not just your spare change, it’s your giving spirit that will help others. Your spare change or your carefully considered donation combined with the same from others can give a member of your community hope.  God Bless You for giving.

For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in,  –Matthew 25:35

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