Six years ago I began a tradition that would immediately become a beloved holiday favorite:
Ringing bells for the Salvation Army’s Red Kettle fundraiser.
I had no idea two hours could pass by so quickly, or that I had so many misconceptions about bell ringing and would learn so much (See 10 Things Salvation Army Bell Ringers Want You To Know to see what I mean). The first two years I flew solo, but ever since I’ve had a few partners in crime. Ringing with special friends had added great joy to the tradition.
I’ve learned a few more things since that first experience, and my great hope in sharing is that I might persuade a few more friends to join this happy little army of neighbors helping neighbors.
1. Ringing the bells with friends makes the time go by almost too fast!
As is the case in so much in live, we really are better together.
2. Ringing the bells is leading by example.
Every single year since I reported for “duty,” at least one passer-by has remarked they’ve always wanted to be a bell ringer. A joyful countenance, a kind word, and looking folks in the eye is an invitation to join this lovely work. I tell everyone who mentions it to Just Do It! You can find information about your local organization by starting at the national homepage and searching your Zip code.
3. Ringing with children is an incredible secret weapon. Ringing with twins is almost unfair.
When I asked my friend Courtney if her twin daughters could ring with me a few years ago, they were only five years old. Who knew that little girls would be such a magnet to people’s wallets? More often than note, generous givers put dollars or coins in each girls hand to stuff in the red kettle. Miss EC and Miss S have become expert dollar-and-coin-stuffer-inners.
4. A Chance To Mentor
The twins are now eight years old, and they have me wrapped around those little pinkies now more than ever. They’re chatty and they tell you lots of things, but an hour together is a chance for me to encourage and affirm them, too. This year, their mama didn’t need to tell them what to do and neither did I. They immediately told every gift-giver “Thank you!” and “Merry Christmas!” I get a bonus “paycheck” of the best hugs ever, too. That THEY have come to revere this as a special Christmas tradition is the sweetest gift back to me.
5. Making it a family affair triples to joy.
I wish we had begun this tradition when our children were young and we could have volunteered as a family. But you don’t know what you don’t know, and since you can’t do a thing about the past, “now” is as good a time as any. Usually I ring earlier in the season before any kiddos are back home, but since Stephen was around, I asked him to join me for the first hour. While he wasn’t exactly jumping up and down about the opportunity, he ended up a little surprised at 1) how generous people are, and 2) how many people actually give. I’m convinced a mother-son bell ringing duo is almost as powerful a secret weapon as ringing with younger children. I couldn’t help but notice how many shoppers looked from me to him, and something about it must have been motivating to give. But also, I loved spending an hour serving with my youngest son, an early Christmas gift to me!
Ringing the bells for the Salvation Army’s Red Kettle drive truly sets the stage for a beautiful Christmas season. Those few hours of service will hearten you and help you to see the beauty of giving as you watch young and old, men and women, folks who don’t look like they have a dime and those dressed to the nines, reach in their pockets, open their wallets, and do their part to fill a red kettle.
Would you please make gift to my Online Red Kettle? I know there are plenty of year-end giving options out there, but your gift would make a real difference for those in need, and at the same time, be a sweet encouragement and blessing to me.
Give by clicking here!
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Loved this! Those twins are heart stealers! And loved that your “baby” big son could join you as well!
I spoke to a man a couple of days ago “ringing the bell” as I gave and he thought I had an odd sense of humor, I could just tell, but was very nice.
God bless you as you contribute your time to the great Salvation Army!
Merry Christmas to you and your family!
(ps How is your book coming?! 😉 )