Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Ringing That Bell

My buddy Tim Gallagher spent three hours ringing the bell standing next to a Salvation Army red kettle last Saturday. This is the third year in a row he has volunteered for bell ringing duty. The folks at Wells Fargo Mortgage in Columbia got him started and it has now become part of his holiday tradition. Kettle bell ringing is a big deal in this Wells Fargo office, with employee volunteers vying among themselves each year to be the top kettle producer.

Tim said he is pleasantly surprised at the generosity of HoCo folks. During his stint at the Centre Park Giant he saw more than a few fives and tens dropped in his bucket. “The bigger donors tend to be a bit older,” he said. He noticed others however, who seemed to go out of their way to avoid him.

He was also very complimentary of Giant. “More and more places won’t allow the kettles, so we really appreciate those that still do.”

Last year Giant received some criticism in the media when they limited the time that the bell ringers could spend in front of their stores. Earlier this year the grocer made a $75,000 donation to the local Salvation Army in honor of their 75th year in business.

I happen to like the bell ringers and their red kettles. For me, those kettles with their sentinel bell ringers are as much a part of the holiday season as Santa Claus. They’ve been out on the street in towns across America every December since 1891. Nowadays they are found around the world as well. This year they received a Top Rated ranking from CharityWatch.

“Of the over five-hundred charities currently rated by CharityWatch, only a select number qualify for our listing of Top-Rated charities based on our rigorous analysis. Groups included on the Top-Rated list generally spend 75% or more of their budgets on programs, spend $25 or less to raise $100 in public support, do not hold excessive assets in reserve, and receive "open-book" status for disclosure of basic financial information and documents to CharityWatch.”

Tim said had a good time too and not just standing there ringing his bell. He also spent the afternoon interacting with strangers and helping the occasional shopper with their groceries. One lady he assisted was trying to manage four rotisserie chickens fresh out of the oven, in addition to her assortment of other grocery items.

“You must really their chicken,” he quipped as they loaded them into her car.

“Actually these aren’t for me,” she told him. “I’m giving them to some other less fortunate families today.” 

A buck in every kettle, a chicken in every pot...
blog comments powered by Disqus