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Monday, December 28, 2015

Ringing the bell for needy, an experience a child won't forget

Graci and her grandfather collect donations
for the Salvation Army 
Every time we go to a store and there's a Salvation Army red kettle, my 9-year old daughter Graci asks me for change to donate. Sometimes I give it to her and other times we just walk by and say hello. I think my perspective has changed after hearing my daughter told me and the family about her experience as a bell ringer.

For the past several years, my dad has been volunteering with his Rotary group ringing the bell and collecting money for the Salvation Army. This year was no different, so I asked my daughter is she would like to go volunteer with her "Pa" and ring the bell. She was overjoyed and exclaimed, "Really, I get to ring the bell and collect money for the needy?"

She couldn't wait. She went on a Saturday afternoon for a two-hour shift.  She dressed in her Santa shirt and was ready to ring the bell with her Pa and another member of the Rotary.

They gave out candy canes to everyone who walked  by, even if they didn't donate. Graci said they gave out the candy canes to be in the Christmas spirit and make people happy. They went through more than 20 boxes of candy canes. Most people according to Graci were generous in their giving which ranged from few cents to their biggest donation of the day, a $20 bill.

Graci told us all about her day. She said they ran out of candy canes, and had to buy more.  She said some people told her they don't celebrate Christmas, so they didn't want a candy cane. Others took the candy canes and were delighted.

There were some that Graci said didn't take a candy cane maybe because they felt bad because they didn't give money. But Graci was quick to tell us that's not what it was all about. It was to make people happy.

Some people walked the opposite way of the kettle. Others like one 80-year-old woman, told her she never went past a bell ringer without giving something. Graci thought that was so cool!

Graci also got a few compliments that day. One lady made her day by telling her she was the cutest bell ringer she had ever seen. Graci said she couldn't believe one person pretended to give money into the kettle.

Overall, she loved ringing the bell and collecting money for people less fortunate. She said their kettle was filled to the top with money when they left.

Did you know the kettle idea started in 1891? It's true and this campaign is seen throughout the world. There are more than 25,000 red kettles manned with Salvation Army volunteers soliciting donations during the holiday.

This past year more than $144 million was raised according to the Salvation Army's website. This money helps the Salvation Army provide food, shelter and social services to nearly 30 million Americans in need.

If you ever get a chance to help ring the red kettle bell take the opportunity. I know it was a great experience for my daughter and is always a wonderful time for my dad. It also taught me a little something. I will always try to put a little spare change in the kettle because I know it is making a difference in people's lives.

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