Ring the Bells

It’s never too late to give and do something good.

I hate instagram culture. There are too many people posing and getting their “volunteer” pictures to spend more time posting about how much they helped others than they actually spent time volunteering or working to earn enough to donate some extra.

It’s for that reason that I try not to take pictures while I’m doing volunteer work. I don’t want recognition and I don’t want a tax break for donating either. That’s not why I give.

But I do recognize that people are more likely to do something for others when they see it already happening. It’s true. Just look around when a stoplight goes out. I don’t know about every one else’s areas, but when one is out in mine a lot of people just drive on through and cause chaos and have little regard for others. Now maybe they just don’t know what they’re supposed to do, IDK.

What I do when I come to a stoplight that’s gone out is I stop. Because you’re supposed to treat it like a stop sign until a cop or someone comes to handle it.

I’m using this example because every time this happens I have to be the one to start it. Everyone is driving however they want. Then I stop, and suddenly, so does the person to my right, and left; the people behind me keep it going. I don’t need a pat on the back or anything, it’s what everyone should do. I was born with a weird sense of duty and I believe it lives in others, sometimes they just have to see it in someone else to bring it out.

So right now I want to post about some nice ways people can make this time of year easier for those who are less fortunate (hopefully without tooting my own horn too much or virtue signalling like an asshole egotist).

There is nothing wrong with giving to feel good. Or doing something nice to elevate your own spirits. As long as you’re not doing it for publicity or whatever.

My eldest daughter has been having a rough go missing her friends throughout this year, and I’ve been missing some of our regular volunteer work since I had my youngest and our favorite animal shelter is running at low capacity due to covid. So we signed up for a bell ringing shift through the Salvation Army.

I haven’t done it in a few years and it’s always fun because I sing carols to everyone whether they donate or not.

Including my daughters this year (I left the toddler and baby home with the hubsy since the baby would just get cold and the toddler would steal the bell and run away) made it even more fun. The shifts are 3 hours long so I wanted to make sure they were old enough. We got out and sang to people. We smiled and laughed and got so many donations from others who laughed and thanked us as much as we thanked them.

It was magic.

Everyone needs that magic. The gift of giving and receiving love.

Volunteering at soup kitchens and shelters is a great way to spread good cheer. But this year is harder. I often find it difficult to work in shifts since I have kids and work and all that and covid restrictions have made it worse

That’s when donations, no matter how small, help. Even $5 to help your favorite animals or keep a special park preserved matters.

My grandma always did her best to give to every kettle she saw. My mom told me it was because grandma got lost in the city one year when she was young and a salvation army volunteer helped her get back home. My mom also taught me to give no matter what. When we barely had anything she always said, “We can at least give a penny.”

That philosophy has followed me everywhere. No matter how any of us struggle there is always something we can give.

If shifts and donations aren’t possible, I will go so far as to tell you to take a risk that is a part of my holiday routine. Food pantries don’t often accept home baked goods, but the homeless people standing on the highway off-ramps do.

For me, this started years back. I was taking cookies to a friend and business partner in the music industry. I drove down to his office in the city and was singing as I walked along. A homeless man smiled and asked if I could spare some change. I told him, “I don’t have any money, but I have these.” I held out the cookies and he squealed like a child. He hugged me and thanked me so much that it made me want to cry.

Ever since then I take it upon myself to bake a large batch of holiday cookies, split it into little portions and go driving/walking around the city looking for homeless people to feed.

Sometimes when we have a little extra my husband and I do that in the spring, summer, and fall. He was a little weirded out the first time he joined in. The fear of being insulting or approaching the wrong stranger is there, but I’ve never had a bad experience.

The last time I did this was a few weeks ago. I saw a homeless man standing with a sign on my way home from work. We had just had a potluck and I was bringing home leftovers for the fam. I parked and ran over to him with a tray of food and asked if he wanted it. He just stared at me and shook his head.

I looked down at the food and felt bad. I was like, ” I know it’s not much.” I really thought he was saying no and I had insulted him. Then I looked in his eyes and realized he was about to cry. He was so touched that he was shaking his head in disbelief. He thanked me and we shared the kind of moment that reminded us both that we’re just people. I gave him a hug and wished him well. He ate good that night and I went on my way. I hope he’s doing alright.

I know we’re told not to give money to the homeless because it enables bad habits and addiction problems, but feeding people is something I will never abstain from. I was once homeless for a brief period. I will cook for anyone and everyone I can.

I encourage you all to do whatever you can too. Not because I want you to think that I am a great person, but because I know YOU are great people.

Everyone deserves to feel loved and have a warm full belly, especially this time of year.

2 thoughts on “Ring the Bells

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