Monday, November 28, 2011

"Ring a Ling... Tis the Season for the Salvation Army Bell Ringers and Hope "

With rising unemployment, draining governmental assistance, depleting donations for non-profits, and the strain upon our society and individuals, the call of giving will be back again by the Salvation Army bell ringers. And though most people put $1 or loose change into the iconic kettle it is the smallest amount(s) that add up to bigger things for those in need. Bigger things that not only can make a family or an individual's holiday brighter, yet bigger things for so many that need it throughout the year.

According to a USA TODAY article written by Nanci Hellmich, nationwide approximately 25,000 bell ringers will be working either by volunteering or by getting paid throughout the holiday season ringing those bells. Many of those who do the kettles for the Salvation Army are the homeless, the once homeless, youths trying to make money for their families, or the unemployed hoping to enrich the season for their family. And the many of those that do volunteer to work as a bell ringer are giving back for previous assistance that they have received, they know someone who has received help, or just volunteer in the spirit of the holidays. The Salvation Army's Red Kettle Campaign contributes millions of dollars to help fund not only the holidays each year, but it funds programs for both families and individuals in need each day.

As a child I still recall a woman in a wheelchair ringing a bell in front of the former Zayre's store in Beverly, MA. My mother explained why money was being dropped into a red kettle by shoppers entering and leaving the store. Though my own family did not have much my mom promised me that I could take the loose change and when we left the store I would be able to place the change into the kettle. The importance and the joy I experienced and still remember to this day is something I recall whenever I hear the clink and the jingle of donations and the chiming of the bells. It is a ring that has helped my own family growing up and it is a ring that has helped me as a mother with my own children.

The ring of the bells do certainly attract the attention of passersby, yet when Captain Joseph McFee wanted attention to fund a Christmas dinner for the poor of San Francisco in 1891 he devised an idea. The kettle program was conceived and since it has expanded across the United States, but also around the world including donations made via mail and on-line at Though the Salvation Army is a worldwide organization, each local community has their own independent branch of the Salvation Army that will distribute all monies collected within the communities that they are responsible for. The Salvation Army of the North Shore
 not only reaches people in need, but most importantly it helps those within our local community in Salem, MA and the North Shore area.

The gift of hope provided in large part by local bell ringers is a year round gift. Accepting help is something many of us now endure today and receiving often times can lead to giving; giving of yourself if not through a dollar amount, but in other ways through volunteering, or simply by just a kind gesture or a kind word to someone else. Locally during the holidays a family makes a choice to receive a Thanksgiving meal, a Christmas dinner certificate to purchase food for the holiday or instead to receive gifts for their children from the Angel Tree or Adopt a Family programs. And the Red Kettle Campaign is a crucial link to keeping the Salvation Army operating in order to continue to assist so many; it is a crucial link to the Salvation Army's Community Lunch Program, the Community Food Pantry, youth programs, rental assistance, utility assistance, and prescription assistance to those in need. A crucial link that began by a thoughtful man and that has grown today, "from the heart of one, into the hearts of two, into the hearts of everyone - Happy holidays to all and God bless you!
Salem Location:
93 North Street
Salem, MA 01970-3963

Phone: (978) 744-5181
Fax: (978) 741-1159

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