I finally picked up the phone and committed to volunteering as a Salvation Army Bell Ringer this year.  But since I'm not much of a a fan of "the bell", I brought along a couple of horns and played fifty or so of my favorite Christmas tunes.  People seemed to like it, and I really had a great time doing it on Saturday mornings, twice at Horrock's and once at Family Fare in Marshall. I was playing trumpet and also my beloved vintage Martin saxophone, which found a few years ago at the Salvation Army Thrift Store, and wearing the coat that my wife found there a few weeks ago.  I saw a lot of people I know, and met a lot of nice people.

Some people driving by pulled over and handed money through the fence at Horrock's. Many sent their kids back with a donation.  I saw people who probably couldn't afford to donate money putting some in the Red Kettle.  It was a great experience for me and really went a long way toward getting me in the "Christmas Spirit".  I talked with adults who used to play the trumpet or sax, and parents who told me about their kids who either played or still play instruments.   A father and daughter took over for me on Saturday.  The girl had recently started playing the sax.

The Salvation Army does a lot of good with the money donated at Christmas time, and I was glad to help.   But I got a lot out of volunteering, and I learned a few things.

I was one of those people that avoided eye contact with bell ringers, if I didn't have any change.   I saw a lot of people doing that.  From now on, I'll make eye contact, say hello or Merry Christmas, whether I donate or not.

Some bell ringers really take it seriously, as a job.  I think they realized that going the extra mile makes the time standing out in the cold go much faster.

The bell ringing season is nearly over for this year, but I hope you'll be generous in the days remaining, if not with your pocketbook, just with a kind word or a smile.   And maybe next year you and your family will pick up the phone and volunteer.  I highly recommend it.  I feel more connected to the community, and gained a different perspective on a lot of things.

Merry Christmas, and thanks to all who took a moment to help the Salvation Army, so they can help others throughout the year.