When the bells go silent

Since the early 1900’s the red kettle and accompanying bell have been iconic symbols of The Salvation Army. It began in San Francisco as a response to many in desperate need. A Salvation Army officer (minister) saw this as a way to raise money to help the community. It was some years later before they were used at Christmas, also, to help local communities.

kettle

It’s hard to watch a Christmas movie, especially one set in New York City, without there being the site or sound of the Christmas kettle and bells. I was even in one of those (hardly seen) movies years ago as several members of the Salvation Army band in Ft. Lauderdale donned winter coats on the streets of Miami as part of the “Christmas scene”. Can you imagine Miami looking like New York City?

In recent years these iconic symbols have been disappearing. More and more merchants won’t allow them under the rationale “if we let you, we’ll have to let everyone.” I’m not sure how many others are wanting to put out red kettles to collect money to provide for others in the community but I get their point. A little.

Then there’s the run around from having to get permission from the owners of the shopping center (rather than individual stores). Those owners/management companies continue the run around or use the default answer of “if we let you….”.

For some stores, permission comes with restrictions: only 14 days during the month, you can’t start until the day after Thanksgiving and the newest one, no musical instruments at the kettle site.

kettle2

The last comes from a large company who has been a favorable sponsor for years. It’s not just our long-time partnership, but who wouldn’t prefer musicians playing music over the constant tink, tink, tink, of a bell. (I know. I’ve rung them!)

The past few years have also been met with a unique challenge that I’ve been hesitant to write about for not wanting to give it more press. A vocal group has protested the kettles under the belief The Salvation Army discriminates against a group of people. We are not perfect but I can assure you, getting assistance from the Salvation Army is only based on need and our ability to fulfill it. For more information you can see here.

One of our men volunteering on his Saturdays.
One of our men volunteering on his Saturdays. 2013
My grandmother (left) ringing bells in the early 50's.
My grandmother (left) ringing bells in the early 50’s.

I’m telling you from my personal experience of being part of this organization throughout my life. The money raised at Christmas not only provides for needs at this time of year but for services throughout the year that The Salvation Army gives. Whether you support this organization financially or not, please support with your prayers. Prayers we will hear clearly God’s call as we head into a future with more challenges. And prayers we will continue to share his love through our actions more than our words.

From the archives. This was originally posted on December 23, 2012 (new photo of volunteer added 2013)

22 Comments

  1. Bree Durham said:

    Debby, this brings back fond memories!! Of course, I can remember my, Mom ringing bells!!! And later, many different family members. The young ones always seemed to have fun. Niece Lisa, in Her Mothers forbearance, collecting the kettles. What great memories. I’m glad you have more understanding of the Today merchant’s reluctance than I. We must all as Christians join together to help one another.

    December 23, 2012
    Reply
    • Debby said:

      Aunt Bree, I’m not sure I understand the merchants reasoning any more than anyone else. I try, but I’m pretty biased 😉 I’m also proud of our family legacy of service. Our daughter and her husband don’t attend the Army for church but volunteer at the kettles every year. They’re teaching their daughter so she’s a 5th generation bell ringer!

      December 23, 2012
      Reply
  2. Bree Durham said:

    Debby, this brings back fond memories!! Of course, I can remember my, Mom ringing bells!!! And later, many different family members. The young ones always seemed to have fun. Niece Lisa, in Her Mothers forbearance, collecting the kettles. What great memories. I’m glad you have more understanding of the Today merchant’s reluctance than I. We must all as Christians join together to help one another.

    December 23, 2012
    Reply
    • Debby said:

      Aunt Bree, I’m not sure I understand the merchants reasoning any more than anyone else. I try, but I’m pretty biased 😉 I’m also proud of our family legacy of service. Our daughter and her husband don’t attend the Army for church but volunteer at the kettles every year. They’re teaching their daughter so she’s a 5th generation bell ringer!

      December 23, 2012
      Reply
  3. Nancy G said:

    I am so grateful for what the Salvation Army does in our area. I feel so much more of a connection with them since following your blog these past few months. In fact, the other day I spoke to one of the men who works at our local store; a man who is there every time I go. He told me that this organization gave him a place to live and a job to show up for when he was at his lowest point. He even gave me the phone number of who to call just in case a loved one might need their help. I keep that note in my wallet and thank God for such a caring group. So, when I saw the lady in our mall w/ a red kettle the other day, I dropped some money in and thought of you!

    December 23, 2012
    Reply
    • Debby said:

      Nancy, thank you for sharing your comment here. It seems easier to hear the voice of critics and let them drown out the voices of folks like you who have good to share. How kind of that man to even share the phone number. That’s awesome! And I’m pretty honored you’d think of me when you see a red kettle. That, too, is awesome! Merry Christmas!

      December 23, 2012
      Reply
  4. Nancy G said:

    I am so grateful for what the Salvation Army does in our area. I feel so much more of a connection with them since following your blog these past few months. In fact, the other day I spoke to one of the men who works at our local store; a man who is there every time I go. He told me that this organization gave him a place to live and a job to show up for when he was at his lowest point. He even gave me the phone number of who to call just in case a loved one might need their help. I keep that note in my wallet and thank God for such a caring group. So, when I saw the lady in our mall w/ a red kettle the other day, I dropped some money in and thought of you!

    December 23, 2012
    Reply
    • Debby said:

      Nancy, thank you for sharing your comment here. It seems easier to hear the voice of critics and let them drown out the voices of folks like you who have good to share. How kind of that man to even share the phone number. That’s awesome! And I’m pretty honored you’d think of me when you see a red kettle. That, too, is awesome! Merry Christmas!

      December 23, 2012
      Reply
  5. iamnotshe said:

    What an amazing post Deb. I have such respect for all the goodness the SA does. I always will … always have, XO

    December 23, 2012
    Reply
  6. iamnotshe said:

    What an amazing post Deb. I have such respect for all the goodness the SA does. I always will … always have, XO

    December 23, 2012
    Reply
  7. montucky said:

    A week ago when we were putting some money in the red kettle in front of a big store we could see the young lady at the kettle had tears in her eyes. She said that she was just told by store management that she couldn’t say “Merry Christmas” to those who passed by, only if they said it first. We have been there several times since and each time we used the door at which she was stationed and loudly wished her “Merry Christmas” and enjoyed her big smile when she returned the greeting.

    December 24, 2012
    Reply
    • Debby said:

      Thanks for sharing that! I think I’ve heard Merry Christmas more this year down here. I know you were a big encouragement to her and to me. MERRY CHRISTMAS to you and yours!

      December 24, 2012
      Reply
  8. montucky said:

    A week ago when we were putting some money in the red kettle in front of a big store we could see the young lady at the kettle had tears in her eyes. She said that she was just told by store management that she couldn’t say “Merry Christmas” to those who passed by, only if they said it first. We have been there several times since and each time we used the door at which she was stationed and loudly wished her “Merry Christmas” and enjoyed her big smile when she returned the greeting.

    December 24, 2012
    Reply
    • Debby said:

      Thanks for sharing that! I think I’ve heard Merry Christmas more this year down here. I know you were a big encouragement to her and to me. MERRY CHRISTMAS to you and yours!

      December 24, 2012
      Reply
  9. Caddo said:

    It’s just beyond me why there should be any issues about the red kettles….Yes, I’ll be praying, since I have no money to offer y’all. God bless you BIG–love, Caddo

    December 22, 2013
    Reply
    • Debby said:

      Caddo, if you’re interested I wouldn’t mind sharing in an email. Let me say how much I know prayers make a difference and thank you for being a true prayer warrior. To give my version of the commercial- prayers: priceless!

      December 22, 2013
      Reply
  10. Caddo said:

    It’s just beyond me why there should be any issues about the red kettles….Yes, I’ll be praying, since I have no money to offer y’all. God bless you BIG–love, Caddo

    December 22, 2013
    Reply
    • Debby said:

      Caddo, if you’re interested I wouldn’t mind sharing in an email. Let me say how much I know prayers make a difference and thank you for being a true prayer warrior. To give my version of the commercial- prayers: priceless!

      December 22, 2013
      Reply

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