Thursday’s blessing was ringing the bell for the Salvation Army with Barb from church. A month ago at the Outreach Committee meeting she offered to arrange a time and we settled on a Thursday night. We didn’t realize it would be 10 degrees and we’d be standing outside – I mean outdoors outside of Bass Pro Shops. I had gathered as much wool clothing as I possessed, and layered it over Cuddle Duds long underwear. It worked, mostly.
Barb’s an assertive Salvation Army bell ringer, cheerily wishing people – arriving or leaving – “Merry Christmas!” That little touch told them they were seen, (hunching their faces down inside their collars for warmth and anonymity didn’t work) and quite often prompted them to dig out some change or even a few dollars. It was bitterly cold and I was amazed by how people – presumably residents of central New York and accustomed to this sort of weather – were dressed. Not only them, but their little children – I saw a lot of mittenless hands, and one guy sauntered up wearing a T Shirt and jeans. Blessedly, there was no wind. A few flakes of snow fell at times and one little tyke stuck out his tongue to catch them.
Many families urged coins on their kids so they could slide them into the famous red kettle. One lady said she had the habit of putting a dollar in every kettle she passed during the holidays, and she’s pleased to see her grown sons do the same. She might have been the woman who went all the way out to her car and returned with money. One woman turned as she left the sidewalk, digging out her purse, pulling out her wallet, and saying, “These days when you pay by debit card, you don’t have change.” Interesting observation on this modern age, I thought. I heard on the radio this month that some Salvation Army kettles in other cities are experimenting with swipe cards for credit or debit donations. Whatever it takes, I guess. As my toes chilled, (despite two layers of wool socks and my felt lined LL Bean boots) and my thumbs got cold, (despite gloves inside a pair of mittens) I thought of the homeless, the hungry, those who can’t heat their homes, and others who will be helped by gifts collected in the red kettle that night. I’m going to write a check and mail it to the Salvation Army. I’m blessed by God – to be a blessing.