Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Register to Ring for the Salvation Army

It just wouldn't be Christmas without hearing that iconic jingle of the Salvation Army bell ringer outside of your neighborhood store.  Did you know that just a one day of bell ringing at one location can generate enough donations for your local Salvation Army to provide a homeless person with one night of shelter and hot meals for an entire day?  


Rachel and I volunteered last year as Salvation Army bell ringers.  It was a lot of fun and it was a blessing in so many ways.  It was wonderful to help raise donations for such a great organization but it also warmed our hearts to see the smiles on people's faces as they donated and to hear their stories of how the Salvation Army has personally touched their lives during difficult times.  

This year, I mentioned to some of the other moms in Rachel's American Heritage Girls troop that we could get a group of girls to volunteer together as bell ringers.  One of the moms seemed surprised that just anyone could volunteer for this.  She thought the bell ringers were all employees of the Salvation Army.  Nothing could be further from the truth!  Bell ringers are regular people from your community, just like you and me!  And the Salvation Army NEEDS volunteers right now.  If bell ringers aren't out there then all of those potential donations are missed.  

I hope you are asking yourself now, "How can I sign up?"

Just go to the Register to Ring website!  When I go to the site, we have several store locations right around our home to choose from.  We personally always like to go to Hobby Lobby because Rachel and I just love that store.  There are shifts available throughout the day to choose from.  You can sign up for hourly shifts but the Salvation Army requests that you at least sign up for a minimum of a 2 hour shift.  Shifts are available to serve from now until Christmas Eve.

What does a Salvation Army bell ringer have to do?

You arrive at your designated location and time about 10 minutes early.  You might be relieving another volunteer who already has the red kettle and sign set up or you may have to do a little set up on your own.  I imagine each store has different policies and different Salvation Army locations might each do things a little differently.  For our location, if the kettle and sign isn't already in place we have specific instructions on where to find the sign and tripod to hold the sign inside our Hobby Lobby store.  Rachel and I simply carried that out of the store and set it up and the designated side of the store.  If the red kettle isn't already out from a previous volunteer's shift then a Salvation Army person will show up at the start of your shift to deliver the kettle to you.  They also provide a bag with two bells and two red aprons.  At the end of the shift, if another volunteer is signed up after you, they will just show up and take over your spot.  If no one else is signed up after you then a Salvation Army person will arrive to pick up the red kettle, bells, and aprons and you will return the sign and tripod to the designated place inside the store.

We usually try to wear something a little Christmas-y like red and green clothes, a Santa hat, etc.  The Salvation Army encourages bell ringers to greet the store customers with a smile or by saying, "Merry Christmas!".  You can even sing Christmas carols or play an instrument to bring some extra holiday cheer.  You don't ask for donations.  Just let the customers know that you are there and they will come.

I signed Rachel's AHG Explorer troop up for two shifts of two hours each and we had a total of six ringers.  It was so much fun watching the girls greet customers and sing Christmas carols together.  I know they attracted more donations because of their cuteness.  But it was also a great experience for them and taught them how they can do even small things to serve those in their community.

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