Every year I find my warmest holiday cheerful outfit and I don my Santa Hat. I brush Luna, my faithful partner (my Bouvier) and we head out to ring the Salvation Army Bell for those in need.
I have to say that it is a highlight of the year for me because I can give back. I take 2-3 hours and stand at my designated Ralphs Supermarket, come rain or snow or sleet (you all know that the latter is just a little white lie) but yes, I’ve stood there in the rain, trembling but smiling and ringing my Bell.
It’s a lesson is humanity and humility.
The general populace doesn’t have a clue as to who is behind the red apron ringing that little bell.
I will readily admit that prior to joining my service club, Rotary International, The original Torrance Rotary; I too didn’t know who these people were. Were they homeless people? Were they down and out on their luck? Were they Salvation Army employees or volunteers?
All service Clubs are supposed to ring the bell. We even have competitions as to who fills the red kettle with the most greenbacks.
Back to my case study in Humanity.
It is very interesting to watch the people as they prepare for family or friends by shopping at the market. Then they see me and Luna. Some make eye contact and smile; some avoid any and all personal interaction. Some come and pet Luna, offer a bone or request a photo. But what I’ve noticed is that people are kind. They donate. They donate generously. I’ve never really had a bad experience in the years that I’ve been ringing my bell.
One year a French woman and her teen son made a derogatory comment about my dog. They didn’t realize that I am bi-lingual in French and when I commented on my lovely dog and how happy she was to be of service, words can’t describe their embarrassment! Touché!
Moral of my greeting: before making judgments find out the facts. Never assume. But if you can, give generously and the next time you see someone ringing the bell, drop some coins or better, some green backs into the kettle!
Luna and I will be at the Ralphs on Madrona in Torrance near the very busy Target on Saturday (tomorrow) from 12-2. Come by and say “hi”!
Happy Holidays to you and yours and may 2013 be filled with joy and good health.