The reason I started this post by saying sometimes you are just destined to be part of something is that ever since I can remember, I put money into the red kettles. I am not sure where it started or how, but in high school I would save my change all year (in jars or more likely bowls) and then starting at Thanksgiving I would put handfuls of change in my pockets before I took a trip anywhere. When I was in high school, the mall was THE PLACE to go to socialize, hang with friends, eat- basically do anything. And we lived less than a mile from the mall. So if I wasn't at a school or church function, you'd likely find me at the mall with friends. And in my Letterman's jacket that jingled and jangled with its metals, so pockets full of change didn't really make a sound. I would just empty my pockets as we entered the mall. My friends would sometimes tease me and ask why. My response was always the same- it just seems like a good thing to do. What else should I do with all that change. Sometimes, they'd add more. And my less than good friends would roll their eyes and keep going (probably a reason we aren't lifelong pals!).
Well, fast forward, 20 plus years and according to my neice, I am in charge of all those red kettle pople (not true, but funny!). One of my tasks is taking care of our local celebrity ringers. Read: weather people (um, LOVE!), newscasters, mascots, firemen, and others at the Celebrity Corner downtown Chicago. While being out there, I have witnessed the beauty and goodness of humanity (and some craziness, too!). In particular, this last Friday as I was ringing by myself while I waited for the firemen to arrive, a man who was obviously down on his luck came up to the bucket and folded up a $5 bill and put it in the kettle. He told me that "The Salvation Army helps him everyday. That we make his life the best it can be and just give love". He wished me a Merry Christmas and went on his way. I was choking back tears and thanked him and wished him a Merry Christmas.
This. This is the best of humanity. The people that have the least amount to share, share the most. $5 has never seemed like so much. It's been a few days and I am still teary eyed when I see his face in my minds eye. He is the reason we stand at a kettle and ring a bell. He is the reason to give during the holiday season. He is the good in the world.
As I've gotten older and use less and less cash (much to Frank's dismay!), I don't have a years worth of change to share. But I do put what I have in the kettle- even before I really knew all the good that TSA does!
But now that I know and am much more aware of the options to give and the amazing ROI that comes from kettles (nearly 90 cents for every dollar is used for programs- meals, housing, emergency services), I decided to start an online kettle. My goal is to raise $1000. I set that goal because two of our kettles were stolen and it equated to about $1000 worth of loss. If you're inclined and don't always have cash but want to put money in a kettle- consider a gift here:
Thanks for helping me "Do the Most Good"
Love and Merry Christmas!