This will be my fifth year as a Salvation Army bell ringer, and I always look forward to the experience. People are so generous and gracious, and this truly becomes a highlight of the Christmas season.
When we think of the Salvation Army we usually picture people serving meals in a homeless shelter. Yes, they provide 56 million free meals every year, but they do so much more. Here are just a few examples:
- Provide emergency shelter and transitional housing
- Assist people dealing with substance abuse
- Support victims of domestic violence and human trafficking
- Offer bill payment assistance for low-income families
- Assist during natural disasters and provide long-term disaster recovery
If the Salvation Army doesn’t find enough volunteers to oversee the kettles, they hire people as bell ringers (usually at around minimum wage). However, it’s sad when they need to go this route, as it lessens the amount of money available for their projects.
I hope you consider getting several of your nursing home volunteers together to help ring the Salvation Army bells this year. Better yet, invite some of your residents to join you!
Here’s what you need to know about bell ringing:
- Bell ringing begins in November and runs through Christmas Eve.
- Volunteers generally sign up for 2-hour shifts, although you can do longer shifts if you wish.
- It’s suggested that not more than 3-5 volunteers staff each site to avoid intimidating donors.
- Your responsibilities include greeting donors with a smile and “Merry Christmas”, and thanking them for their donation.
- In our part of the country, the weather is downright cold at this time of the year. Some of the bell ringing sites are outdoors, so you need to be very careful about how you dress. However, there are other sites (such as shopping malls) that have warm indoor sites.
- You can wear a Santa hat or a Christmas sweater if you wish; they’ll also usually let you borrow one of the traditional red aprons.
- For even more fun, try caroling while you oversee the kettle.
Need more encouragement? Check out this humorous training video on how to be a bell ringer:
Click here for more information and to sign up to ring the bells.