Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Bell ringers giving the gift of laziness?

Salvation Army red kettles signify the start of Christmas for me, perhaps even more than holiday lights.

I love dropping loose change and some bills into each kettle in my path, knowing I will help a family in my community have a nice holiday. I also enjoy the enthusiasm of bell ringers, the joy they seem to get from visiting with folks coming and going on their various Christmas errands.

Sadly, I have lost the spark for red kettles this year. Not because I don't want to give. Rather, I find myself dissatisfied with the bell ringers.

I know this is not their job, and many bell ringers are volunteers. But, on two occasions yesterday I merrily dug in my purse for money to drop in kettles in front of Macy's at Parkdale Mall and Market Basket in Port Neches. To my disappointment, both bell ringers were absent from their kettles.

At Macy's, a woman sat inside the store's entryway texting - both on my way in and out of the store. I understand bell ringers get breaks, but it was the lunch hour and a busy shopping day. Last night at Market Basket, the bell ringer sat 5 feet away from his kettle, quietly reading a newspaper. A friend told me he saw a bell ringer at Walgreen's this week lazily leaning on his kettle, content to not speak to anyone.

I will always give to the Salvation Army, but I am disenchanted with the process this year. If bell ringers can't be troubled to do their job, I bet a lot of potential donors will not be troubled to give this year. And that is just sad.

15 comments:

Anonymous said...

Most are volunteers who work 2 hour shifts. Not all shifts are filled. would you like to volunteer? And for those who brave the cold and have to take an occasional potty break, thanks for your volunteerism. You do a great job.

Anonymous said...

The volunteers are normally the enthusiastic ones, because they want to be there. The employed ones are the individuals who can't get a job anywhere else, mostly because they have no soft-skills. Please contact the Salvation Army office when you see a bell ringer not doing their job. It is difficult for Salvation Army personnel to keep an eye on all their bell ringers all the time.

Beaumont (409) 896-2361
Orange (409)883-4232
Port Arthur (409) 983-2229

Anonymous said...

WELL NOW I DECLARE - YOU CAN'T PLEASE EVERYBODY ALL THE TIME - I MYSELF HAVE NEVERED BEEN A BELL RINGER ALTHOUGH MY KIDS THINKS IT WOULD BE A COOL JOB TO HAVE - BUT MAYBE THE WRITER SHOULD TRY STANDING FOR HOURS AT TIME AND RINGING A BELL AND WATCH RUDE FOLKS WALK RIGHT BYE AFTER THEY HAVE BEEN SPOKEN TOO AND NOT EVEN LEAVING A COIN - I DON'T KNOW BEING THAT THE WRITER DO SIT BEHIND A DESK AT A COMPUTER & WRITE SUCH THINGS - MAYBE SHOULD BE A LITTLE SYMPATHETIC TO THE BELL RINGER- YOU JUST NEVER KNOW WHAT A PERSON MAYBE GOING THUR BEFORE U SEE THEM NOR AFTER- I'M SURE ONCE U WALKED PAST THE RINGER AND DONATED YOUR SMALL GIFT - YOU DIDNT GIVE THOSE RINGER MUCH THOUGHT AFTERWARDS! JUST SAYING

Anonymous said...

I had a wonderful talk with the bell ringer at Sam's. I always try to put something into every kettle I pass... and I always get a "Thank you and God Bless." Give it a beak. Yo go stand in the cold, rain, and even the hot weather for a day... Let's see how you do.

Anonymous said...

if you have to complain, call the SA office, and don't disparage the bell ringers in your column. all of the bell ringers i've seen have been wonderful, even to people who didn't drop a coin or two into the kettle. here's an idea for a useful trendy column, why don't YOU volunteer for a shift or two and then write about YOUR experience on the other end of the bell. i'd be willing to bet your attitude would change drastically. and, just to make it fair, don't advertise where you'll be when you volunteer, but make sure we get to see a pic of you ringin' the bell.

Anonymous said...

Maybe your problem is that all the bell ringers don't look as "trendy" as you and your friends are. Some of the bell ringers have been homeless and I'm sure that doesn't fit your definition of "trendy" although you might be amused buying from thrift shops. In my younger days, I stood out on super hot Labor Days as a firefighter asking citizens to "fill the boot." Every once in a while, it got hot. I'd go sit in the shade or sit in the pumper to cool down. I guess that makes me lazy in your eyes. Grow up.

PJ said...

They just don't beg good enough anymore? And they just don't ring bells like they used to? Either way, you asked for it, sweetie!

If it helps any, these comments made my day!

Anonymous said...

Careful of who you give to this season. I recently contacted the salvation army to see if they could help a family in need as their website had posted and spoke with an older lady. She told me that that money was for them. I have given to the Salvation Army for years and will never do it again. Not to mention she was very rude.

Patty and Jay in Vidor said...

In 2005, after we returned from evacuating from Hurricane Rita, my boyfriend (now husband), (who is disabled from a stroke, can't speak fluently and walks with a cane), saw Capt. Dan Ford on Channel 6's Live at Five. Capt. Dan was appealing to people to come ring bells so that local families would have enough money to survive the holiday season. My kind hearted boyfriend asked me to arrange for him to ring bells. He worked 4 hour shifts 4 days a week at the Lumberton Walmart. That winter had some VERY COLD and rainy days, but he would not cancel his schedule. He simply put on thermal underwear, heavier clothing and bundled up. Because he could not stand for long periods, he sat in a wheelchair. I made him a red bag to attach to the wheelchair which held Christmas suckers for the children. He wore a Santa hat and a red apron. He sat for 4 hours, rarely took bathroom breaks and rang the bell constantly, so much that for hours after his shift, he felt like he could still hear the bell.

HE LOVED EVERY MINUTE of his volunteer service to the Salvation Army. He collected almost $2400 in four weeks, an average of about $40 an hour. We thought so much of Capt. Dan Ford that we asked him to perform our wedding in the Salvation Army Chapel on Valentine's Day.

My family has a Christmas tradition to never pass a Salvation Army kettle and not put in at least a dollar. If it's a cold, rainy or miserable day, we try to put in at least $5 to show our respect for the dedication of the bell ringer being willing to stand in the terrible weather.

Everyone in this area who is EMPLOYED and not in financial trouble this Christmas should show their compassion and donate to every bell ringer they see who is faithfully doing their job. In addition, there are toy drives all over this area. PLEASE spend a little extra money buying a nice toy (or several) for needy children.

Did you know that for every $11 you donate to the Southeast Texas Food bank, because of their special buying network, they can provide 44 meals for needy families? Trust me, you'll be blessed so much when you give to others.

Jesus is the reason for the season...so ask yourself, "What Would Jesus Do if he saw his neighbors in need?"

birdiegirl91 said...

I believe that some of the "volunteers" are those who have gotten into trouble and are working off a community service assignment. Forgive me if I'm mistaken.

Anonymous said...

My mother lost her father at the age of 3, being from a large single-parent family, they could barely afford meat let alone Christmas. The only Christmas my mother knew growing up was provided by the Salvation Army, I think the others were right, maybe if you got involved you could lead a new more enthusiatic bell ringing revolution by example, but I'm sure you'll stay in the warm, behind your desk with your expensive coffee thinking about the good ole days.... Pity what your idea of Christmas is

LA9600 said...

I didn’t see anything in the original posting that mentioned not appreciating Red Kettle volunteers and the time they are giving in sometimes inclement weather. The point she seems to be making is that some of the individuals representing the Salvation Army as a bell ringers are indulging in personal business while volunteering. Unfortunately, this behavior on their part can have an adverse effect on the organization they are supposed to be helping. I am sure if the writer were to volunteer, assuming she hasn’t in the past, she would read the paper and text someone on her own time not while ringing the bell. To me, seeing a bell ringer is a reminder that there are those who without help won't have the happiest of holidays. It is not begging for money or paying for a show, but ringers who don't seem to want to be there certainly don't bring out a spirit of generosity in my book. This coming from someone who has volunteered in the cold for the Salvation Army.

Anonymous said...

All the bell ringers I have encountered this season have been very polite.

Anonymous said...

Apparently LA9600 is a friend or boyfriend of the writer. Having experence with the writer I know her giving does not come from the heart.

Ashley Sanders said...

Anon 10:22, if we are chummy enough that you've had "experience with me," why not use your name? Heck, why not use mine? (The "writer's" name is Ashley Sanders) I'd love to catch up!

And. I didn't know we were checking my giving resume. If you want to know about my giving from "my heart," here is a list of places that I have given to either financially or through clothing donations this year: United Board of Missions, Goodwill, Salvation Army, The Beaumont Enterprise Empty Stocking Fund and The Humane Society of Southeast Texas.

Thank you all for your comments. I know this blog posting is not popular with most of you, but I enjoy the exchange of ideas and I am thrilled to see so many of you passionate about something.

Wishing you all a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays.