Sunday, November 20, 2011

Why I ring the bell for the Salvation Army

My spot, at the (West facing) entrance to the Unitah Gardens
King Soopers market.  The shadows illustrate how I am positioned
 to receive the afternoon sun.  I also can count
on seeing a few friends, as I live about a mile away.

                         Why I Ring the Bell for the Salvation Army
A couple of days ago, I just put in the first of four shifts I signed up for with the local Salvation Army.  Why am I out there, for these four-hour blocks of time, when I could be doing something more "fun", and, vertainly more comfortable? I can cite a number of reasons....

They do good work.  The loval Salvation Army operates the local homeless shelter.  The R.J. Montgomery Hope Center offers emergency housing for up to 200 people every night.  They also operate Fresh Start, an apartment-based transitional housing service, where families with children can stay up to two years as they rebuild their lives after homelessness.  The "Soup Run" uses the mobile canteen to provided a hot meal Monday through Friday evenings at a Downtown location.  It serves about 75 folks a night.  Family Services provides aid to individuals and families struggling with un-employment, rent, utility bills, medical needs and the like. They operate a church with the attitude of "Heart to God, Hand to Man".

They do good work very effeciently  No-body is pulling in a large salary as they work providing the above services.  The officers who "run the show", draw astonishingly low wages (sometimes with a provided house to live in).  No-one is "doing well by doing good" here.  I have sat on the Salvation Army Advisory Board for a number of years and see the numbers.  Money dropped in that kettle goes an long, long way to help people in our community.

The good work is increasingly needed  The rough economic times have definitely hit "the 99 percent" in our community quite hard.  The assistance and sheltering services in our community are seeing more and more "middle class/working class" individuals and families who "don't know what to do".  The "chronic homeless", the group our services were built up to serve over the last few years, know "who does what" in our town.  The "new homeless", having recently dropped off the bottom rung of the ladder, have no idea of where to go and who can help.

Ringing the bell REALLY helps.  The Salvation Army does hire people to staff the kettles.  There are also a lot of volunteers.  Service groups like Rotary sign up to help out, year in and year out. A lot of individuals do this too. The Army has found that a volunteer-staffed kettle tends to receive a larger number of dollars than one staffed by a paid person.  This is really "the season" for the Salvation Army to raise funds to support what they do all year.

It's fun!  I look forward to doing my bell ringing.  I always sign up for a specific spot (the Uintah Gardens King Soopers) at a specific time (11am to 3pm - to catch the afternoon sun).  I count on seeing and cating up with friends and acquaintences I haven't seen for a while as I stand by the one entrance to that store.  Of course, when I get corralled by the Kettle Coordinator to sign up, it late November and I have NO idea of how the weather will be on my appointed shifts.  If it is a cold, windy day, it feels slightly better that Basic Training Guard Duty at Fort Lewis, Washington in January!  You just dress for the weather and soldier on.  My shift this time around started cold and then warmed up.  During the cold first hour, a VERY kind lady brought me a cup of hot chocolate from the Starbucks inside.  That mitzvah warmed me on several levels!
It also feels good just to be a small part of such a good effort in our community.  Things like that is why "ringing the bell" is part of MY Christmas season!

It's not too late to help!  You are needed!  You can call the Kettle Coordinator and talk to her about helping out.  Her name is Adrianna Watson and she is at 719-884-1042  or    


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