When you go shopping during the next few weeks, you will probably hear a little bell tinkling. Attached to that little bell is a volunteer bell ringer for the Salvation Army. These volunteers are your neighbors, your church members, your professional resource people and your helpers. They are your helpers because the money that their bell ringing brings into the little kettles is money that will show that our community is generous and cares for its citizens.
Although the bells just ring during the Christmas season, the money is used all year long to meet the needs of people in our own community. During the Christmas season we don't want to think about anyone going without food or some toys for their children. But in all other months we also need to think about people who may be in need.
The board of the Salvation Army will use your coins and bills that you put in the kettles to not only provide a cheerier holiday, but to be on hand throughout the year, for emergencies or day to day needs that arise.
It's fun to be a bell ringer. I love to watch the people as they leave their cars and head to the doors where some of us are standing by the kettles. If they know you they will usually either dig in their pockets for some change, or stop to say they will stop on their way out when they have more change. If they are reminded that bills will go through the slots also they will often cooperate and dig a little deeper. However we never want to make people feel embarrassed. If you have been in several stores during the shopping trip you may really have given all you can afford to give. There is always the answer that you "gave at the office."
On really cold days if the volunteer is assigned to ring at Woods' Supermarket with its northern exposure, it can become hard to ring the bells with gloves on. I have seen some creative ways to keep hands warm and still jingle the bells a little. Alternating hands works for a while, but if your shift was for an hour both hands will eventually get pretty cold. Some gloves are flexible enough that you can hold the bell while still wearing your gloves. However at least twice I have been ringing a bell with such vigor that my glove cladded hand couldn't hold on to the tiny bell. Once the bell sprinted clear out to the parking lot from my hand.
Another time I was ringing the bell so hard that the bell fell apart and I was left just jiggling the stem of the bell. I think it was fixable however.
There is a lot of work connected with having the bells and kettle delivered and picked up each day, keeping track of the money, being sure that no volunteer was left stranded without a replacement coming for relief, and getting the equipment stored overnight or through the year.
For that we need to thank all the members of the board and especially Greg Hoffman who has chaired this drive for many years.
The least the rest of us can do is keep the kettles full.