Now That’s The Holiday Spirit

Monday, December 27, 2010

Christmas may be over, but that doesn’t mean the spirit of Christmas has to be. Today we’re sharing with you stories of many ordinary people who have done extraordinary things to give back to those in need. If you ever think that you don’t know what you can do to foster change, we hope you’ll be encouraged by these stories of individuals of all different ages and means who find creative ways to help others.

Lynn Smith (Photo: WAVE News)

A SPECIAL BIRTHDAY WISH

Lynn Smith of Kentucky has for years adopted angels through The Salvation Army Angel Giving Tree program. But this year, as she turns 50, she wanted to do something extra special – so Smith adopted 50 angels! She enlisted about 40 friends to help as their birthday present to her.

BINGO!

Mary Timmons was hesitant to take up bingo because she viewed it as gambling. However, she knew exactly what she wanted to do with the money. For the past six months, the 97-year-old has been saving all of her 50-cent bingo winnings in order to donate it to The Salvation Army’s Red Kettle fundraiser. This December she dropped more than $40 in quarters into a Red Kettle outside her local Walmart.

Bob and Betty Haldeman (Photo: John Carrington/ Savannah Morning News)

CHRISTMAS WONDERLAND

For several years Bob and Betty Haldeman have created a winter wonderland of Christmas lights on their lawn (and the lawns of their neighbors) to be enjoyed by the public. They play Christmas music, serve free coffee and hot chocolate, and collect donations for The Salvation Army Red Kettle fundraiser. Over the past 12 years with their light display they’ve collected $50,000 for the campaign!

“THANKS-FOR-GIVING”

Dan and Denise Costa of Modesto, CA have volunteered with The Salvation Army since the 1970’s. They were instrumental in creating the annual “Thanks-For-Giving” event for people in need held at the Modesto convention center. Unlike a traditional food line, the event mirrors the experience of a 4-star, fine dining restaurant with linen table cloths, garnished tables, plated dinners, music and entertainment, games for kids, and full table service. Dan and Denise even write letters to the public and collection donations to fund the dinner so that it comes at no cost to The Salvation Army. More than 1,000 people enjoy “Thanks-For-Giving” each year.

SMALL COINS REAP BIG GAINS

The Salvation Army of Greensburg recently concluded its first ‘World’s Largest Kettle’ Campaign, a program aimed at filling the world’s largest Salvation Army kettle with 5.4 million pennies. While the program did not succeed at filling the entire kettle, $20,000 was raised in pennies in just one day. Donors to the program ranged from young children who contributed just a few pennies, to a man who had been saving pennies since 1963 and was looking for a special avenue to share those pennies. A local middle school had homerooms compete against each other and collected 963 pounds of pennies—an estimated $1,500.00. A local bartender collected more than 75 pounds of pennies from tips and other loose change left at the bar.

MYSTERY SANTA

Salvation Army Captain Deborah Weigner dropped off 35 Angel Tree tags at the local Walmart in Corry, PA for shoppers to sponsor a child a need before Christmas. When she returned to the store another day, the service desk attendant informed her that every single child’s wish list had been taken care of. An anonymous Ohio business owner had come through the store and seen the tags. He took each one and employed the help of other shoppers to buy everything on the tags, stating “No child shall be left behind this Christmas.” He spent more than $1,400 to make sure that they would all have a merry Christmas.

A Merry Amusement from Mr. Bean

Friday, December 24, 2010

We’re in holiday crunch time with only one day to go til Christmas! To help keep the holiday cheer alive, we’re sharing this hilarious encounter by Mr. Bean with a Salvation Army brass band. Enjoy!

An Unconventional Christmas Story

Thursday, December 23, 2010

One of the things I love most about Christmas is the many classic holiday tales that are told every year and yet never seem to get old. There’s Clement Clarke Moore’s poem Twas the Night Before Christmas, Dr. Seuss’ beloved How the Grinch Stole Christmas, and, if you want to count animated classics, those great TV specials featuring Frosty the Snowman and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.

This year I have a new favorite. It really isn’t a Christmas story at all, but it has all the makings of one, and best of all, it’s true.

In The Chicago Tribune, Rex Huppke admitted to having a “bah humbug” attitude when he hears the ringing of Salvation Army hand bells. More specifically, he said he’d like to “gather them up and throw them all into Lake Michigan.”

To make it worse, he made it his personal mission to “rid the world of unsolicited street ringing.” Who is this guy, the long lost cousin of the Grinch?

But as Huppke adamantly pursues his Scrooge-like quest against The Salvation Army, he has an epiphany that leads him to a complete change of heart. We might even say “it grew three sizes that day!”

We highly recommend you give the article a read. We’ve linked to it here. Even if you enjoy the sound of Salvation Army Bellringers, Huppke’s insight offers a poignant reminder of the purpose behind this holiday tradition.

Dream Drive Snapshots

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

We’ve got pictures posted from the Fourth Annual Dream Drive for our Adopt-a-Family program. Below is just a sampling of the many photos you can find on our Flickr page.

Thanks to Sam’s Club, Off the Field professional football players’ wives went on a shopping spree to help make the holidays brighter for 100 families in need across the country. They filled up carts full of food, clothes, personal items, electronics and toys for each deserving family. Football players’ wives shopping for Salvation Army families this year included Roxi McNabb in Washington, DC, Dotti Palmer in Cincinnati, Denise Clark in Chicago and Kimberly Alexander in Dallas.

Thank you to all Off the Field participants and Sam’s Club for making this year’s Dream Drive come true!