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Holiday spirit reflected in giving community

Nikki Hinshaw, News Editor

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As a Red Kettle Club officer, I was blessed with the responsibility of participating in the well-known Salvation Army service project of bell-ringing. I spent hours greeting strangers who had chosen to shop at Fry’s Marketplace on Dec. 6. Although the task was tedious, the cause was noble and I was able to gain not only money for the Salvation Army, but an unexpected respect for the general public.

I am ashamed to admit that in the past, I had avoided the very same bell-ringers that I now joined, quickening my pace as I avoided eye contact and escaped into the safety of the store or my car. When I was younger, I was not aware of the importance of donating, or even the importance of acknowledging the volunteers if a donation was not feasible. Now that I have adopted the role of volunteer, I have been exposed to the realities of charity and the necessary role we, as citizens, must play in supporting it.

After a day of observing and interacting with shoppers, I was so impressed with the public’s actions. It was amazing to see how many people put money in the kettle, with amounts ranging anywhere from a few pennies to twenty-dollar bills. I was in awe of how many people placed change and bills in the kettle instead of using that money to satisfy the pecuniary demands of the holiday season. Donators chuckled as they fought to find space for their money in the packed kettle. Volunteers even had to resort to shaking the kettle and pushing down money in order to make space for more donations.

Another aspect of volunteering that amazed me was the impact we made upon the community. Members of Corona’s choir stopped by to volunteer and sing for a couple of hours, and their voices mingled beautifully with the ringing of the bells. All too often, shoppers would exit or enter the store, scowling, fretting over holiday preparations and daily stresses. As soon as they looked over at us or heard the sound of bells and music, smiles emerged on the faces of nearly everyone who acknowledged us. It was so special to be responsible for improving a person’s day, if even for a moment. Although some people refused to recognize us, I was motivated to continue greeting people by the frequent smiles and responses I received. A surprising number of people even took time out of their shopping trip to stop and talk to us about the Salvation Army and thank us for volunteering. The bond created between the public and volunteers through this project was inspiring.

In addition to being amazed by the amount of adults who donated, I was also encouraged by the involvement of their children in donating. Parents handed money to their kids to put in the kettle themselves, allowing them to realize the importance of donating as well as interacting with people. First, I ogled over the cuteness of young children stretching to stuff bills in the kettle, then recognized the significance of their efforts. By encouraging children to get involved in charity from a young age, parents are teaching a new generation of volunteers and supporters, and I am now hopeful for the future of Red Kettle Club, as well as other volunteer organizations.

Overall, my experience ringing bells to support the Salvation Army resulted in a newfound appreciation for the people in my community. I was humbled by the number of people who willingly donated as well as interacted with the volunteers. Before I began volunteering I would not have shown the same compassion and support that so many people exhibited. Despite all of the financial and emotional hardships associated with this time of year, our community proved to thrive through their generally giving, generous attitudes.

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The student news site of Corona del Sol High School
Holiday spirit reflected in giving community