Bell Ringing
By Bill Eagle

It's a new year, and December is no more. Most people have put away their Christmas decorations, exchanged unwanted or wrong sized presents and started paying on their December Bills.

One of the things my wife and I do during the Christmas season is volunteer to ring bells for the Salvation Army. Our Kiwanis Club serves as our communities "Kettle Coordinator."

Last month, I experienced something really wonderful.

I stood in front of our local Safeway store with my red kettle ringing a bell. I put on a big smile and people would stop by and drop in some of their spare change. I'd wish them a "Merry Christmas" or a "Happy Holidays" and they would leave and go about their shopping.  A few people would stop and chat for a moment or two with me and then move on. I would wish them well and continue to ring my bell.

A mother with three children stopped by my kettle. She reached into her purse and handed them some change.  Each child walked up and carefully placed their coins into my Salvation Army pot. Her last child appeared to be about 11 or 12 years old. He looked up at me and smiled. "My name is Braden, would it be okay for me to ring a bell?"

"Sure" I replied. "I just happen to have an extra bell in my pocket. Go for it!"

His grin widened when I took a bell out of my pocket and handed it to him.
…And that's when things started to change. Braden started ringing his bell, and as he rang he confronted a man walking into the store. "How about giving some money to the Salvation Army? All the money we collect goes to help poor people in our community."

The man reached into his wallet and stuffed some dollars into our red Salvation Army pot.

"God Bless you," said Braden, "have a wonderful Christmas and a very Merry Holiday season."

We rang some more and Braden greeted everyone who either entered or left the store.

"Give some money to the Salvation Army" Braden would proclaim. "They help all of us and they feed hungry families."

Almost everyone that Braden approached put money in the pot. A few people smiled and apologized to him and told him that they didn't have anything. Braden would smile and wish them all a Merry Christmas and a Happy Holiday season.

Braden's mother, brother and sister came out of the store. "Come on Braden, if we get home early enough, we'll still have time to ride the horses."
"No thanks mom." Braden replied. "I'd rather do Charity work. We're collecting money to help people who need help."

His mother smiled and told Braden that she would come back for him in about an hour.
Where I collected pennies, Braden was collecting dollars, I saw some tens and twenties go into our pot.

His mother finally came to take him home. I thanked them both.

Braden shared a big cheesy grin. "I'll be back tomorrow. I like helping. I feel good when I do good."

"We all do." I replied. "It says in big letters right above our red kettle "sharing is caring." Thank you for caring enough to share your time with us."

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