that ringing sound

They are everywhere right now. People with buckets and bells. And it’s hard to know what to do.

Do you give on the way in or on the way out? Do you look them in the eye or look the other direction? What if you give something on the way in and then it’s a different person when you are walking out? Do you have to feel guilty then or do you get to say, “no, I gave on the way in.” And will they believe you? And what if you want to make one larger gift…with the individual ringers know? Will they think that you are stiffing them? Maybe it’s better to just keep a roll of quarters in your pocket and put a couple in every bucket you see.  And how much is enough? Does a penny count? Does 47 cents count? And how come sometimes the people ringing the bells are also singing and sometimes they are trying to look cool and sometimes they look cold?

And by the time we are done with these questions, we are in the car, thinking, “next time.”

I understand completely. Why do you think I know the questions so well?

What I also know is that while I trying to figure out the right way to give, there are volunteers with the Salvation Army doing stuff. While I’m trying to decide whether 47 cents makes a difference, there is someone watching their house burn down drinking 47 cents worth of coffee. While I’m deciding whether I should make eye contact or not, the Salvation Army is working to fight human trafficking and addictions.

So I’m ringing a bell to fill a kettle.

Click on the image above or in the sidebar. You contribute, they send you a receipt. And the money goes to the national Red Kettle campaign.

In the interest of full disclosure, I get nothing from this. I’m not on a board. I’m not on a committee. I’m not a member of the Salvation Army. And I’m not even going to say that I’ll match your gifts up to a limit (Although I will tell you that we have already started putting money in kettles).

I do, however, care about people. And this is one way to help people who help.

The questions earlier? There aren’t any simple answers. Other than this: don’t give to make yourself feel better. Don’t give out of obligation. Don’t give because of guilt. Don’t give comparatively. Don’t give because I’m asking.

Give out of gratitude. Invest in caring.

15 responses to “that ringing sound

  1. I give at every kettle I see all season. It started as a little kid with my grandmother in downtown crossing Boston, one of the most wonderful places to be for Christmas in the old days.

  2. Thank you! I do use the actual kettles and have already this season. I normally ring at least once a year. I was with Kiwanis for 17 years and the Salvation Army Captain was always a member. I worked many projects like Coats for Kids with the various captains serving our area and learned from them the very real needs that are out there. If people aren’t comfortable with the kettles or would like a tax-deductible receipt, they can also write a check to their local Salvation Army. Or they can put together a few extra bags of groceries and drop them off.

    Thank you for making it easy for those who would like a virtual kettle, there is a very real need and more this year than ever before.

  3. Just wrote about kettles- I am pretty sure my dad didn’t foresee “walking by” virtual kettles.

  4. I *love* the virtual bell-ringer idea!

  5. I *love* the virtual bell-ringer idea!

  6. Whether I’m giving or not, I always look at the ringer, smile, and say something — Merry Christmas, God bless you for what you’re doing — just something to acknowledge them and show respect. I do appreciate the work of the Salvation Army.

    The virtual kettle is a great social media outreach for the SA. Glad to see them doing it — and thanks for being a virtual ringer, my friend.

  7. i love the image of you and your grandmother and a life of giving. Thanks.

  8. Julie

    Thanks for the hands on work you have been doing to help. (By the way, the
    virtual kettles give a receipt, too).

  9. meg – there are lot’s of things he didn’t foresee, but would be very
    delighted in. Thanks.

  10. Paul – makes it easier to turn down the volume, right? But it’s also
    accessible for those of us shopping online.

  11. Thanks, Connie, for your encouragement of ringers, real and virtual. 🙂

  12. Pingback: out of the box « Levite Chronicles

  13. Jon,
    Since I don’t get out to the malls and stores and shop, I miss dropping something in the red kettles. So I contributed to your kettle then liked the idea so much I started my own. Thanks for the inspiration.

  14. Pingback: Christmas Giving : Lillie Ammann, Writer & Editor