From November 23, 2014.
I spent a couple of hours on Friday bell-ringing for the local Salvation Army*. While I have done a shift or two every year for several years, this was in a new location for me.
It was fabulous. I shall sign up to ring there every Friday.
Now, my navel-gazing.
Note: I was there from 11:30 to 1:30, so I saw almost no school-age people and a lot of retirees. My off-the-cuff observations are clearly not drawn from a representative sample of the population.
- People in this little town, population 1,119, seemed friendlier and more generous than those who shop at Wal*Mart and the big supermarket twenty miles south on highway 8.
- It is amusing to stereotype the people who give, and those who don’t.
- Those over sixty were almost guaranteed to slip a dollar or two into the pot.
- Women over thirty, about two-thirds donated.
- Lone men, about fifty-fifty.
- Lone men carrying beer, same as all other lone men. Somewhat surprisingly.
- Number of cartons of beer under the men’s arms seemed not to have any impact on whether they donated or not.
- Lone men under thirty, never. Never.
- Unless they had one or more children with them.
- Then they gave.
- Some people need to realize that a handful of change was a generous gift in, say, 1955.
- Not so much today. Gas is $3/gallon, people, not $.25.
- Judgey me is particularly annoyed when the handful of change came from someone who then got into a shiny new monster pickup.
- But, as Carole reminds us, we don’t know everyone’s story.
- So I tell judgey me to STFU and just ring the bell.
- One elderly lady told me the most touching story. She had stopped to dig through her purse for some money to put into the red bucket. As she fumbled, I asked if she was going to be cooking for company on Thanksgiving. She said that she had gotten the very best surprise present that morning.
- Her daughter had told her that Grandson would be home from the Marines in December. Later, elderly lady and husband had stopped at daughter’s house to look at something.
- When they walked in the door, there was Grandson, home early! Her eyes filled with tears when she told me this. He had been in Afghanistan, and we all know how dangerous that can be.
- Another couple had their 20-ish Down’s syndrome son with them. As they walked from the store into the vestibule he was waving a tightly-rolled dollar bill, clearly excited to be the one to put it into the bucket.
- After he donated, he held up his hand for a high five.
The Salvation Army does good work and does it for some of the most needy people in our country. Please give generously to them.
* As I did again this year.