In college, a friend and I stood outside of a ShopKo (a Yooper Kmart) and rang bells for The Salvation Army. I think it was only a couple of hours, but I remember that we tried to stay warm by jumping around when customers weren't near us while we butchered the lyrics to Christmas carols.
Now, tomorrow, I will be doing it solo. For four hours. There will be no concert.
This has been a rough year for the Red Kettle campaign. For the Pontiac-area, the donations were down five-thousand dollars from where it was last year, said Major Nate Johnson, last Friday. Usually, the Red Kettle campaign is finished by Christmas, but because donations have been down, it will continue to December 31.
"The Christmas Kettle is our single, largest drive of the year," Nate said, adding that the money helps with holiday items, like food baskets. But it also funds year-round assistance including literacy, senior and after-school programs.
Johnson speculates that part of the reason funds may be down is partly because of the economy and partly because of the weather. It has been a cold one down here, and I wonder if I've brought a little U.P. to Southeastern Michigan. I bought new mittens so that I won't have to spend as much time inside warming up.
This is a critical time for The Salvation Army Nate said, "I don't know when things are going to get better. You hear it's getting better, but we're not seeing it on our end. We hope they remember the Red Kettle this time of year."
I hope you do too. I understand that not everyone can give. If you can't give though, perhaps throw me a smile. I know most people would like to just get in and get out without looking at the person in the red apron, but really, it doesn't hurt my feelings if you have no coin. Being ignored sucks though.
Besides being a worthy cause, volunteering with the Red Kettle is downright convenient. Compared to many volunteer stints, I didn't have to sign a bunch of documents, provide my Social Security number, or my right leg. OK, I'm exaggerating.
But it was easy, I just visited ringbells.org and filled in the location and time that I desired. Even though donations are down, volunteer help has risen. Nate noted that many athletic teams from Oakland University have helped out, as well as Rochester Schools and the Clarkston United Methodist Church.
So, if you happen to go grocery shopping in White Lake, you might see me ringing a bell from two to six.