This is the first season that I have volunteered to do bell ringing for the Salvation Army. It all seemed relatively harmless when I signed up in early November. I am scheduled for 1 hr shifts, and I picked a time I thought would be the warmest part of the day no matter what. Little did I know that 2 of the past 3 Sundays that I volunteered were extremely cold! Bundled up, my face barely visible that first day, I was greeted kindly and even thanked by many for standing near that famous red kettle, ringing that equally famous bell! One kind soul had been to the sight earlier when a mother and daughter were ringing, and he came back to deliver hot chocolate, only to find them gone on their way. Still, he handed one off to me and wished me well. The kettle was so full of money that we had to use a pen to push all the bills in as more donations were made! To say that I felt joy was an understatement. I was overwhelmed by the compassion and generosity of people in what we are told is the worst economic times we've experienced in many years.
My other attempts at bell ringing have been just as rewarding: I never cease to be amazed by the people who thank me, bless me, and wish me the merriest of greetings. I realized yesterday that I have a smile on my face the entire time I'm there because it's so much fun! Yesterday, facing frigid temps and below zero wind chills, the manager of the store allowed me to stand inside to do my bell ringing, and for that I am extremely grateful. Our intent is not to interfere with their commerce, but to bring attention to the needs of the less fortunate.
Years ago it bothered me that there were less fortunate people, but then it was because I figured they should do something about it. Now I realize, with years of experience and life lessons, that many people are unable to help themselves. I am so ashamed of myself for not having known that earlier, and for judging other people...
I read somewhere that you should give 3% of your earnings to charity. I give to various charities, but I hope you all consider that your time and energy should be donated as well. There are many people who need us, and we are worth more than the money in our bank accounts.
Bell ringing is going to be a permanent part of my holiday seasons for years to come. And for those experiencing those holiday blues, go out and give of yourself. The joy and satisfaction will put a smile on your face!
Happy Holidays to One and All!