In Need of Holiday Volunteers

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The holidays are right around the corner, and many community Salvation Army units are searching for volunteers to assist with their seasonal activities and services. The holiday season is generally the busiest time for us and the extra hands lent by volunteers make all the difference in helping us stretch our service to people in need.

Can you find time, anywhere from one hour to a few days, to help The Salvation Army serve your community this season? Maybe you’d like to help with a toy drive, be a Christmas Red Kettle Bell Ringer, assist with meal distributions or just jump in wherever you’re needed most.

Visit your local Salvation Army’s website to see if they are offering information and sign-up for volunteer opportunities. If you don’t see anything online yet, just give your community’s unit a call and ask what you can do. You can find your nearest Salvation Army by visiting www.salvationarmyusa.org and typing in your zip code in the top menu bar’s “Locations” field.

Scott Bedio, Archivist for The Salvation Army USA’s National Headquarters, has volunteered as a Christmas Red Kettle Bell Ringer every holiday season for the past 20 years and believes “there’s no better way to give back.”

Over the years he’s come to recognize many of the faces who pass by and donate to his kettle season after season. He says many strangers even feel compelled to talk to him about their personal stories of how The Salvation Army has helped them in times of need.

One of Scott’s favorite parts of being a Bell Ringer is seeing what he calls “generational giving” – when children, parents and grandparents share in the tradition of donating to the red kettles. He also looks forward to when his son is old enough to participate with him in his annual bell ringing tradition.

For those of you who are considering being a first time Bell Ringer, Scott offered some great advice:

Dress in Layers. Standing out in cold weather can be the hardest part of bell ringing, so covering up from head to toe can help you endure the elements with less shivering.

Be Creative. People love to hear the bell, but you can also mix it up. Scott sometimes brings his tuba and plays Christmas music when he wants to give his hands a break from ringing. Others have also been known to sing!

It’s All About Your Rhythm. If you don’t want to wear out your arm, Scott advises to not overuse your arm and elbow when ringing by keeping your bell near your waist and focusing most of your movements in your hand. But the technique of bell ringing is flexible so feel free to work out a style of your own.

As we wrapped up our conversation, I asked Scott what’s the most important thing people should know before they volunteer as a bell ringer?

After thinking a bit, he replied, “Have a smile on your face and enjoy the people. It’s a special time.”

Does this sound like something you’d like to be involved with? Contact your local Salvation Army today to get started.

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