Yesterday a Kroger employee asked me if The Salvation Army was paying me for standing in the cold and ringing their bell. I told them they were not, because I volunteer my time. He said, “You must be crazy!”
After ringing for several hours, I walked about 155 yards to where my grandson stays during the day, while my daughter and her husband are at work. I got to hold him and rock him for a few minutes. Not many paying jobs provide this opportunity.
Then I walked over to McDonalds for lunch, and the manager recognized me in all of my Salvation Army materials – apron, bell, and kettle. He said, “Lunch is on us. We appreciate what you guys do.” Wow! A free lunch!
Then, a woman shared with me how her daughter had been hooked on drugs for a number of years, and it was The Salvation Army that came to her rescue. She is no longer on drugs, and recently graduated from college, and is working on her masters. The woman hugged me, and we both shed a few tears of joy. She also told me that The Salvation Army had recently honored her daughter for all of her progress.
A few minutes later, two young boys about 7 or 8 came by wearing their back packs. As they walked by me, they told me they really wanted to give, but they were flat broke. I told them that was OK, it was the thought that counted. I forgot about them for a while, but then they returned with big grins on their faces.
They told me they both found a penny in their backpacks, and even though it was not much to donate, it was all they had. So, they deposited their pennies into the kettle. I asked them to look up on the internet the Bible story of the widow and the mite. They just looked at me with that SAY WHAT kind of look, so I explained it to them this way.
“Boys, you and I just saw some folks donate a dollar or more into the kettle, and that is wonderful. But, they have a whole lot more where that came from – right?” Both boys nodded. Then I said, “But you two boys gave everything you had didn’t you?” Heads continuing to nod. I then asked, “So boys, who gave more? You or those other folks?” They both got real excited, grinning ear to ear, and said, “Mister, we gave everything we had!”
A little later, a group of six or seven young boys anywhere from 7 to 11 year of age rode up on their bicycles. They all parked their bikes, and walked over to the kettle, donating all the change they had. I said, “God bless you boys.” One of the boys looked up at me and said, “No Mister. God bless you for standing here in this cold.” Wow! Getting blessed by some really nice boys.
Later, a nice man came up to talk to me about Indiana because he saw my stocking hat with the word HOOSIER on it. He knew some of the Indy 500 drivers that had stayed with my family and I back in 1949-1952.
After that, two daughters tagging along with their mother, came along and donated one dollar each into the kettle. Their mother was teaching her daughters a life long lesson of the importance of helping others. They gave me a little plastic American flag, and asked me if I would hold it the rest of the day. I did hold it, and after they were done with their shopping, they drove by. They waved to me, and I waved back holding the little American flag they had given to me just a few minutes earlier.
Yeah, call me crazy. This is only the second year I have done this, and if God permits, it certainly won’t be my last.
© 2011, Pierre Cassidy. All rights reserved.