Lend a helping hand to the Salvation Army

A Salvation Army email transformed me into a bell ringer this Christmas season. Though I am no stranger to fundraising, at first apprehension mingled with my excitement. When that little toddler tiptoed over, though, I was hooked! She and other kids liked ringing the bell, too.

Guessing who would give was folly. In the guise of a shy face, a rumpled Bills cap or stylin’ boots, gifts flowed with purity of heart. Young people are so generous. Who knew? An older shopper said quietly, “I sent a nice gift in by mail.” Another shopper semi-admonished: “You should have a swiper. Nobody carries cash.” A young guy breezed in and dropped a $20; seconds later, ironically, a retiree apologized for his few coins. Life is in balance, just not so apparently.

On the back of the Salvation Army’s sign, volunteers are advised: Say something appropriate to the shoppers. It doesn’t alert you to the effects of saying: “God bless you.” That’s when hearts open up. “Thanks. I need that today.” Or a head turns, and eyes gaze right into yours and light is reflected: “God bless you, too.”

Fundraising takes courage. So does giving. A young man, walking by with friends, reached deeply and, without a glance my way, put in his money. Giving to the Salvation Army was definitely his goal, even if it wasn’t cool to let on that he heard “Merry Christmas” as he walked back toward his pals. To his folks: be proud!

Shock and disappointment: At 6 p.m. on Friday, with the parking lots full, there was no volunteer to take over. The bucket was removed. Thousands walked by with no chance to give. Please call and volunteer so that doesn’t happen again. God bless you. And, Merry Christmas!

Mary Jo Ketchum