Happy Christmas in July!! Christmas is already being discussed and planned for in Corps across the country. There is a lot of preparation and planning that goes into the many programs The Salvation Army offers during the holidays. There is Angel Tree, Food Drives, Toy Shops and, of course, The Red Kettle Campaign. There is something about hearing the bells ringing across town that really signifies the arrival of Christmas. Trees and decorations start making appearances in stores in October, but the feeling of the season doesn't really sink in until you hear those bells as you make your routine shopping trips to grocery stores, the mall and WalMart. Last year was my first year ringing bells, and I would encourage others to join. I was apprehensive at first, but after spending four hours ringing the bell, it is something I plan to do every year.
I was approached by our Kettle Coordinator to see if I wanted to ring a bell for four hours outside Belk, since they were having a sale that would draw a lot of customers. Belk hadn't had much traffic, so the location was pulled from our list, but if I was willing to ring, then we could have the location just for that evening. Reluctantly I agreed, thinking that I hadn't come prepared for the dropping temperatures as I was only wearing dress clothes with peep toe heels and no coat. Even in spite of the bitter temperatures and sharp wind, I found myself having a great time. I was singing carols and meeting new people, all while working for a greater cause than myself. The end result, was $60 and a full heart. Not too shabby for a first time ringer. I would sincerely encourage you to ring, even if you think it may not be for you, I would try it at least once. I never dreamed I would enjoy it as much as I did, but I hope to continue to ring every year. Still need some convincing? Here are 10 reasons you should ring a bell this Christmas!
1. Start a Family Tradition
So many families try to volunteer during the holidays to instill the value of giving back to the community in their children. Ringing a bell is a great way to introduce them to volunteer work. It is simple enough that even the youngest child can help, but the impact is huge.
2. Be the Sounds of the Season
It really doesn't feel like Christmas until you hear the first bell ringing. You can be a part of sharing holiday joy by providing the sounds of the season.
3. Hear Uplifting Stories from People Impacted by The Salvation Army
When people walk by the kettles, more often than not, they stop by with a story to tell. Whether they were once helped by The Salvation Army, used to volunteer or know someone who was a recipient of some sort of service, the stories they share are enlightening and uplifting.
4. It Becomes a Game
I personally started a competition with myself: how many people can I get to donate that walk through the doors? I wanted to greet everyone and share the message of The Salvation Army, which is to do the most good. I began to count how many people in a row I could get to donate, and then when someone didn't donate, I started over. It was actually really entertaining!
5. The Money You Raise Directly Impacts Your Community
The Red Kettle Campaign is The Salvation Army's largest fundraiser. 85% of everything raised by the Red Kettle Campaign goes directly back into the community, meaning it helps feed the hungry, keep people warm through the cold winter months, help at risk youth and many other programs that The Salvation Army offer.
6. You Can Learn How Much You Raised
After you ring the kettle, the kettle coordinator will collect your kettle and put a tag in the kettle, indicating that you were the person who rang. The next day, if you call the Corps, they will tell you how much you raised in the time you volunteered. It is incredibly rewarding to know that you donated four hours of your time and raised money that is going to a really good cause - at virtually no cost to you.
7. Christmas Caroling
Christmas Caroling is one of the best parts of the holiday season. Nothing says, "It's Christmastime" like hearing people singing their favorite holiday tunes. It is a great excuse to sing your favorite carols without having the potential awkwardness of singing directly to someone by knocking on their door or visiting their home.
8. A Reason to Wear Tacky Christmas Sweaters
Dressing up to ring bells makes it even more fun! The Salvation Army thrift store has a wide array of Christmas sweaters throughout the year that make great holiday attire. You can wear your favorite tacky Christmas sweater, dress like Santa or Mrs. Clause, an elf, a reindeer or you can get creative! Visit our Pinterest Board for some fun costume ideas!
9. It's Fun
It is actually a lot of fun! Grab your family or a group of friends and make a day out of it. Pack your hot chocolate, some cookies and your camera and you have a fun holiday spirited outing! You can dance around, sing carols and really make it a fun event! The more joy the merrier the kettle!
10. Be a Part of the Legacy
The Red Kettle Campaign has a deep history in America. It began in 1891 in San Francisco when Salvation Army Captain Joseph McFee wanted to provide a free Christmas dinner to families who needed it. He decided to adapt an idea that was originally developed in Liverpool, England where people could throw some change into a pot to help the poor. Six years later, it spread to the East Coast and continued to grow into the tradition it is today, spreading throughout the entire United States and across the world. That's a pretty exciting thing to be a part of! For a full history of the Red Kettle Campaign, you can click this link: Red Kettle History.