Sunday, December 6, 2009

Salvation Army Bell Ringing

What is it about Christmas that stirs up in people the spirit of giving? In this holiday bustle, it is important to remember those who are not fortunate enough to afford toys for their children, or even a decent holiday meal. Salvation Army’s goal is to reach out internationally to brothers and sisters who need assistance at any time of year. Though their message and organization is Christian Bible-based, volunteers and recipients from all over the world are of any belief.
Everyone has seen a kind old man, a mother and her kids, or the local STUCO group standing outside of a store with the famous bell and red kettle. This is one of Salvation Army’s biggest fundraisers during the holiday season, and this group makes it so easy for anyone to participate.
When I decided last November that I wanted to bell ring, it took a simple five minutes on the internet to sign up. Any of these sights:, for Iowan stores, or, if you would like to ring bells in Nebraska, easily guide you through a quick sign-up; choose a date, a store and time, and the website will send you a confirmation email. If you ever decide to cancel or switch dates, simply go back onto the site, sign in to your account, and change your ringing dates!
Last year, I decided to ring outside of the Scheel’s at the Jordan Creek Mall on the day after Thanksgiving, since my family Thanksgiving is in Des Moines. I rang from 10 AM to 12 PM, dressed very warmly, and sang the whole time. The stand with the kettle was right there waiting at 10, the bell with it, and when I was done, I was able to leave it there without needing to wait for the next potential volunteer. The setting was great-- the area is nice and about 50 percent of people on average donated something to the bucket. Almost everyone had a smile or holiday greeting or compliment for me in return (I sang Christmas songs the whole time-- I could only think of about 6 songs that I knew all the words to and wanted to sing.)
This year, I decided to first sign up on the identical time, location, and date, and have signed up for many more in both Des Moines and Omaha. The feeling one gets from volunteering their time for an organization such as this is irreplaceable. As a teenager, I do not have a lot of money to donate, but my time is just as valuable. As corny as it sounds, singing “Let It Snow” in front of a sports goods store made some people’s days, and the money that I earned, which will go to new shelters, food, or clothing for those in need made some other people’s days. And that is a very great gift indeed.
So! I encourage you to join in. Volunteer for just one day or many-- any contribution is appreciated. If you do not have the time, donate some money on the Salvation Army website. Smile at those who look like they are having a bad day. Though Christmas stirs up the feeling of giving, helping out can warm hearts at any time of the year.

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