The ringing of bells is an unmistakable sound of the season. Whether you are quickly running in to Festival Foods for a gallon of milk or knocking out your kids’ entire Christmas wish list during a marathon trip through Bay Park Square Mall, the jingling of those bells assures us that the holidays are upon us.
They also remind us that not everyone in our community can afford to buy presents for their kids this year. Or even, too often, that gallon of milk. The annual Red Kettle Campaign goes a long way toward making sure families in need can still have a merry Christmas, says Robert J. Mueller, the Salvation Army’s greater Green Bay area coordinator. “As less fortunate families struggle to keep food on the table and roofs over their heads, we believe coming alongside these families during this time of year will matter.”
Maybe you already ring bells for the Salvation Army. Maybe your family, like mine, has made this a cherished tradition. I still remember our early days of bell-ringing where I would drag one daughter or the other along in a clunky car seat. Or the year I might have bribed my daughters with the promise of dinner at IHOP. (Not proud. Just sayin’.)
Just as times have changed for our family, so has this tradition. Today my girls want to be involved in strategically planning our bell ringing. No longer content to take a slow shift in a quiet corner of the mall, they’re insisting on ringing bells at a busy grocery store during rush hour. “And we can’t hand out Reese’s peanut butter cups anymore,” they informed me. “Someone might have a peanut allergy.”
It’s never too early to teach your children about giving back to the community, Mueller says, Ringing bells as a family will “provide an opportunity for parents to show their children how to give and become a donor. It is a rare occasion for a child to pass a kettle without begging his or her parent for change to drop in the kettle,” he adds. “Bell ringing really matters. It matters because we can all participate in something bigger than ourselves and teach our children to do the same.”
Further, it’s not too late to sign up yet this year. Many volunteer spots at locations all around Brown County – from Wrightstown up to Howard/Suamico – are still available; you can search for availability online at RingBells.org.
Maybe you have an hour or two to spare before Christmas Eve? After all, as Mueller points out, “an unmanned kettle is an empty kettle.”