Last week, I rang a bell for the Salvation Army. Now, I donate to the Army every year, sometimes by check and sometimes by sticking a few bucks in the kettle, however, this was the first time I actually volunteered to do something to help their cause.
I signed up online and picked a Kroger store in Northville, Michigan, a few miles from my home. I had a few butterflies in my stomach as I arrived at the site a few minutes before my 2:00 p.m., two-hour shift was set to begin What if no one arrived to put up the kettle? What if I did something to make me and the Army look bad? And the worst fear: What if was a failure as a bellringer and no one donated?
As it turned out, all my fears were unfounded. Just after I arrived, a man pulled up in a car, jumped out, hung a kettle, locked it to the stand, wished me luck and was back on his way. I picked up the bell, took a deep breathe and started ringing. As I did, I read the rules attached to the stand. They included such things as smile; Say “thank you;” dress for the weather (too late for that one since I had already arrived); and do NOT badger, coerce, ask or beg people to donate.
Although people didn’t flock to my kettle during my shift, there was a steady stream of donors. I decided that my shift would be a success if my kettle received more money than the garbage bin across from me received garbage. It wasn’t even close. People were generous with money and stingy with garbage.
The only problem I had was trying to attract people with a catchy tune. It’s hard because I ‘m not very musical; plus the bell only plays one note. I tried to vary my ringing cadence at times to see if that attracted more people than steady ringing. Changing the tune also helped to pass the time since bell ringing can be tedious. And while a few people commented on my ability to carry (ring) a tune, not many did, so I’m not sure if it was any more profitable for the Army.
As my shift ended my replacement arrived. I gladly handed him the bell and thanked him for volunteering. I even dropped a buck into his kettle.
I have a repeat engagement at Kroger’s next week. The weather may not be as warm as it was for me this time, but that’s ok. Ringing for a good cause provides its own warmth.