On the first day of Christmas Santa brought me to….
Ringing the bell for the Salvation Army.
We all know Christmas season is upon us when we walk by a store and hear the familiar sound of the bell ringer. Have you ever stopped to think who that bell ringer is and where that money is going?
I have rung the bell several times before as I used to make all the hockey players for the Wichita Thunder ring it (they were Canadian, they can handle a little cold!). I will admit though I did not know much about the actual premise behind the red kettle and the bells.
This time I spent some time talking to Lieutenant Kory Strand, who oversees the kettles in the Johnson County area to learn more about the importance of the Red Kettles.
Kory is in charge of 28 sites throughout Olathe, and Johnson County. They do have about 15 paid bell ringers, and at any one time about 10 of them will be working. That leaves 18 kettles that are unmanned unless a volunteer steps up to ring the bell. Kory said anytime they have a volunteer covering a kettle it is a huge boost to their overall goal, which is to raise $300,000 for their programs.
I talked to Kory about their programs, and the one that he has a huge passion for and that a good portion of the money raised helps fund is a transitional housing lodge. This lodge provides support to any family unit with children who need help getting back up on their feet. The lodge provides shelter, supplies the parents with budget and parenting classes, helps them find a stable job and supplies dinner Monday thru Friday. Kory said that the staff gets incredibly close to these families, and it’s always sad to see them go, but seeing them go means that the family is now in a better place to provide for their children and themselves. The kettles play a huge role in this lodge being able to exist.
The day I choose to ring the bell was an absolutely beautiful 50 degrees. My friend Sarah was a true champ, as she rang the bell when it was 18 degrees outside. People are incredibly gracious, many of them thanking me. My favorite was watching parents teach their children about what the Salvation Army is, and giving them some coins or a dollar bill to come put in the kettle.
Shifts last two hours, and you can do them with friends or co-workers and you can also take turns ringing if it’s too cold outside. The bell ringing begins mid November and will last until Christmas Eve. It would be a great thing to do with you child, or to have a sports team or work group take on several sites. We can all find two hours during that time to give back to such an important cause. Visit www.registertoring.com to sign up at a location near you. And please, don’t forget to drop in some change when you walk into a store to do your Christmas shopping!
P.S. I will warn you, you might hear bells in your sleep the night after ringing:)