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Every Time a Bell Rings, My Angel Hears Ka-Ching

Every Time a Bell Rings, My Angel Hears Ka-Ching

by Greg on December 23, 2011

Not much of a post today as I just wanted to wish everyone the most wonderful of holidays. Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Kwanzaa, Apathetic Atheist Day, whatever it is you celebrate, I wish you nothing but the best.

As for me, I’ll be spending my weekend watching football, taking Perry for a Christmas ride, and sharing in the anticipation and excitement as my kids fawn over Christmas morning. I can’t promise I’ll be alert, as they tend to rise while the sun is still over mainland China, but I do know I’m going to love every minute of it.

Today, in our never-ending quest to instill the thrill of Giving in our children, we enlisted Michael and Kamryn into the Salvation Army as Bell Ringers 1st Class.

They handled deployment well.

Along with their enlistment came an impromptu Bell Ringers Boot Camp. A grueling 30-second lesson in proper bell ringing so that they weren’t caught off guard when out in the field. Fortunately, or rather unfortunately, Boot Camp wasn’t needed considering my children are already naturals in the art of making incessant noise. While the bells presented a far tamer auditory weapon than they were used to, they managed to squeeze every possible decibel out of the clappers.

While dutifully fulfilling their service, we did have a child try and go AWOL, but the threat of latrine duty snapped him back into formation.

Before deploying the troops, I armed Kamryn with a stocking full of candy canes so that we could win the hearts of the masses. It’s not easy on those who face the constant noise and reminder of our presence every time they enter, shop, and leave the store. The candy canes were our peacemakers.

As well, I didn’t want us to look like every other Salvation Army bell ringer we’ve seen since July. Most of them huddle around the kettle like they themselves are homeless. Shimmying their hands with just enough of an unenthusiastic rattle so the bell is almost audible to more than just canines.

I wanted to break the Tops Markets Salvation Army collection record, especially if they had a 50/50 split policy in place, and I figured I was a shoo-in with two young adorable children.

How wrong I was!

We stood there ringing the bell and doling out candy canes but most of those who walked by avoided all eye contact. I get the fact that people can’t always be expected to drop cash in the bucket. Especially since they’re confronted by bell ringers from the time they enter their kitchen in the morning to the time they enter their bedroom at night, but I at least extend the courtesy of a smile, a hello, or a Merry Christmas greeting. You only look the Scrooge when you ignore the bell ringers’ existence.

Just when I thought we were going to be blanked, Kamryn started skipping around the kettle and dancing. Almost immediately, people were flocking to the kettle. In the first 15 minutes that we were there, we raised around $6. After she started into her antics, we raised more than $70 before she tired out 30 minutes later. In the end, once our hour was up, we collected more than $100 that I could count. Not bad for newly enlisted soldiers.

So, in case you have two minutes to burn, and need a smile on your face, here’s my angel at work.

I just hope it’s the only time she dances for money.

Merry Christmas, everyone! You made this year a rewarding one for me personally and it’s your readership, comments, and genuine interaction that keeps me going. So thank you.

Bless you all and have a wonderful holiday weekend!



Lexi December 24, 2011 at 6:38 am

Really, no comments???

I nearly choked on “I hope this is the last time she dances for money” lol

She’s a cutie, so is your son! Merry Christmas!!!

Jennifer December 24, 2011 at 6:53 am

That’s so wonderful to have them help ring bells. I’m with Lexi – the “only time she dances for money” – I’m hysterical! She’s got the moves though!

Patti December 24, 2011 at 7:42 am

Good Job! How lovely to see the enthusiasm:) And now, I also have the sound of your voice in my head as I read your blog. Bonus! Merry Christmas to you and your wonderful family. Patti

Karen December 24, 2011 at 8:39 am

Looks like they should hire a bunch of 4-year old cuties and they’d be raking in the cash. Merry Christmas to you and your beautiful family!

Carrie December 24, 2011 at 9:17 am

I’m pretty sure it was that little back-kick that brought in the coins.

What energy. I’m kinda jealous.

(Not really.)

Merry Christmas.

Wombat Central December 24, 2011 at 9:34 am

Adorable. Also? I think I love your wife–“Where’s her coat?” That would have been me. πŸ™‚

Telling Dad December 24, 2011 at 9:40 am

Actually, that’s our 10-year old son. But, considering he’s a carbon copy of my wife, it stands to reason why you’d think that. πŸ™‚

Michelle December 24, 2011 at 10:08 am

Awwww. The cute killed me dead. And she’s not dancing for money, she’s dancing for joy.

Caroline December 24, 2011 at 12:46 pm

So cute! You should have brought one of the whistles from your care package…she would have definitely had everyone’s attention! πŸ™‚

Merry Christmas!!

valmg @ Mom Knows It All December 24, 2011 at 12:58 pm

I do feel like I’ve been seeing bell ringers at every store for months now. It used to be only between Thanksgiving and Christmas and at some stores but it just seems to have been everywhere and for much longer this year.
I think it’s great that you’re teaching them about giving and helping others.
She looks adorable dancing around, it looks like Michael wanted to dance a wee bit more but perhaps was shy in public?
I hear some dancers make good money…. πŸ™‚

Melinda December 24, 2011 at 3:56 pm

Cute!! Who could walk past that without giving? Wishing you and your beautiful family a Merry Christmas! It’s been a joy getting to know you and it strengthened my abs laughing so you almost qualify as a workout credit.

Brian the Kwyjibo December 24, 2011 at 4:50 pm

Looks like they had fun doing this, which is good, because it’s a great for your kids to learn about.

Carolyn December 24, 2011 at 7:40 pm

Greg, I love your blog and have been reading for a few months now, happy to lurk in the shadows and enjoy the ride. Seeing this persuaded me to comment. Most people are unaware, but you might want to know that the Salvation Army is less than friendly towards the gay community. You can read a ton more at the following link, or check out the links from a simple google search on “salvation army gay”. http://www.bilerico.com/2011/11/why_you_shouldnt_donate_to_the_salvation_army_bell.php

I used to support them without question, but I refuse to give my money to an organisation that not only has a history of refusing to help gay people unless they abandon their “sinful lifestyle” but also spends money on lobbying against LGBT rights.

Just a thought for you and your readers.

Merry Christmas/Hanukkah/whatever holiday you choose to celebrate, everyone!!


Carolyn December 24, 2011 at 7:42 pm

Oh, and a list of LGBT-friendly organizations is also given at the link I posted above πŸ™‚

Christy December 24, 2011 at 8:01 pm

They may not take the world by storm, but they certainly will take our hearts. What a wonderful moment and spirit of love you’ve given your kids to help others!

Jennifer December 24, 2011 at 10:09 pm

Brilliant! My kids and I wrapped mountains of presents at our local homeless shelter this year. As fun as that was, I think my kids would LOVE to be bell ringers more. How does one get this fun assignment??

Jennifer December 24, 2011 at 10:11 pm

and by “brilliant” I meant your kids, right? You knew that, I hope. UGH! Time for mama to go to bed, methinks.

Nicole December 25, 2011 at 1:41 am

“I just hope it’s the only time she dances for money.” And THIS is why I like you. Such frankness! Kamryn is quite the star out there! I probably would have jammed with her a bit on my way out.

Meg December 26, 2011 at 7:53 am

I’m with everyone else.. I nearly spit my coffee all over my father in law’s computer monitor & keyboard when I read that you hoped this was the last time she danced for money..lol. She is simply adorable, who could resist donating to be cheered up by seeing her so enthusiastic. (Had the headset off so couldn’t hear much other than a tiny tinkling of the bell- trying to read your blog, AND visit with the inlaws at the same time!)

We had a very nice Christmas here with family, but will be heading back home later today. Hope that you all had a wonderful Christmas as well.

Ryan December 26, 2011 at 9:26 am

I considered volunteering when asked by my boyfriend, even though I had previous qualms about whoring myself for an anti-gay organization. In an attempt to dispel my own prejudices about the Salvation Army, I went to their website to look around (bells2ring.org). I found their 2010 Annual Report (>what we do>2010 Annual Report) where I could see that the local agency has helped numerous families and homeless. I scrolled down further to see their financials. I’m still quite appalled every time I open the link and see that their administrative and maintenance costs outweigh their programming. I was tempted to call every reporter in the area and ask them to produce a segment showing people that more than half of their donated dollar goes directly to feed the organization and not the people it declares to support. In the end, I’ve only forbid my boyfriend and close family from donating to this org but suggested that they instead donate gift cards, clothing, and toys to the local domestic abuse shelter.

Windsor Grace December 27, 2011 at 10:34 am

In the south, we at least have to make eye contact. It’s the law.

Sarah December 27, 2011 at 5:40 pm

So flippin’ cute!

Karen C December 27, 2011 at 9:14 pm

Thanks Ryan, You’ve done the right thing checking out the details before carefully and thoughtfully distributing your hard earned $$. However, it’s
probably fortunate that the SA is not as thorough in checking out your financials or moral debts should you ever need a meal, a shelter, or support in some way. Volunteering = Whoring yourself? Anti-gay? Is that the only platform you could find?
Thanks for your generous financial advice. It’s heartwarming.

Sorry Greg. It had to be said. I understand if you hit the delete.
Kamryn is a star and you have every right to be proud.
Karen C

Telling Dad December 27, 2011 at 9:20 pm

I won’t hit the delete button. πŸ™‚ I didn’t have my children help ring the bell and support the Salvation Army because I support anti-gay organizations, or whatever the opinion is.

I know they do good because I’ve seen it first hand. If I sat around doing background checks on everyone and everything I supported, nothing would get done.

I can appreciate the stance, the opinion, and the concerns, but I think the verbiage used by him was a little harsh.

Nothing will take away from the experience and my children learned what they needed to about giving and sharing. If that makes me a bad guy…because I helped an organization that some feel isn’t the best one out there…then so be it. But I’ll sleep fine tonight.

Carolyn December 28, 2011 at 1:54 am

Just to defend Ryan’s comment, actually, if he turned up at the SA with his boyfriend needing a bed and a warm meal, there’s a good chance he would be turned away – there have been documented cases of this happening to gay people. Karen, i do understand that it’s not the only metric by which to judge an organisation, but I wonder if you’d feel the same way if they were a racist organisation that refused to help black people in trouble? I’m guessing hells-no πŸ™‚

Greg, no-one is suggesting for a second that the SA don’t do good work, and no-one was criticizing you for taking your kids out to work for the charity. I think you do a wonderful job with teaching your kids the value of money and charity and caring about others. I think Ryan and I were just giving everyone a heads-up about an aspect of the charity that not many people are aware of. I’d personally rather know this stuff about charities I donate to: I don’t want a cent of my money to be spent lobbying Congress to pass laws that discriminate against my community, rather than helping the people I’m trying to help. I’m simply spreading info so people can make an informed decision πŸ™‚

Tonja December 28, 2011 at 9:15 am

Oh lordy…the coat comes off! I love the comment about hoping that’s the only time she dances for money. If she ever decides to go that route, however, I hope she changes her routine…she was making me dizzy…thought I’d fall out of my chair! LOL Just kidding. She is adorable and looks like she had fun ringing the bell…after all…it did make noise, right? Hope y’all had a great Christmas and have a safe and happy New Year!

One note on previous comment…you “forbid” your boyfriend and family members from volunteering or donating to SA? Wow! In this day and age, I bet that goes over well. Do you let them out occasionally to see the sun shine?

Ryan December 28, 2011 at 3:26 pm

Karen- They did a thorough enough ‘background check’ on me when I was in need. As a young teenager, I was ‘outed’ at school and subsequently at home. I was then kicked out and had no place to live. I turned to the County and they pointed me in the direction of two NPOs, one being the SA. The ‘kind’ lady told me that there was nothing they could do but to help me seek God and change. I balked when he first suggested that we ring bells but after a day of thought, I convinced myself that I was being irrational.
That is when I proceeded to check out the SA. I only say ‘whoring myself’ because I feel betrayal from that organization but they would still love to take any money I could give them. To me, that is how I view a pimp’s relationship with a prostitute. I didn’t (in semantics) liken Greg’s situation to my own; I believe Greg does a fantastic job around this blog stating that the views he states are strictly his own and hope that each of us can expect the same regard in commenting.

Carolyn provides good clarity toward my statements. I would never suggest that teaching children to become exceptional members of the community is a bad thing. I believe in a very strong sense of community. I enjoy volunteering; I served nearly nine years in the Army before I was discharged for being injured. I have mixed feelings over my service; one is that I blindly followed my President’s and Congress’s intents, whichever intents they had. That is why I’ve resolved to review whom I support along with their intents and purpose. I don’t expect Greg nor anyone to do full background checks and financial reviews before volunteering or donating to an org but I do feel that we owe it to ourselves to contemplate it when someone exposes information that would portray that org as one we wouldn’t want to support.

Tonja- I forbid them in the sense that I would feel betrayal and hold those nearest me personally responsible for supporting the SA when they would not render aid when I needed it most because I was seen kissing another boy in middle school.

Greg- There’s no better father than one who prepares his children as extraordinary members of the community. If I were to judge based solely on your blog, I’d say you are an outstanding parent. If the only way to get my niece and nephews to enjoy volunteering was ringing bells for SA, I’d put away my own misgivings. But I’m certainly glad that there are more helpful organizations in my own community.

Tonja December 28, 2011 at 3:39 pm

Ryan, I see what you mean. I didn’t mean to be mean and judgmental. I just don’t like being forbidden to do things, myself. Maybe I just read it wrong. In any case, I know what you are talking about. My mom had the same issues (well sorta..haha) when she needed help. She enlisted assistance from the United Way and got none so to this day, I do not give to the UW. That was about 100 years ago and perhaps I should get over it, but it left a bad taste and there are so many other orgs out there that need help I don’t feel I am slighting anyone.

Karen C December 29, 2011 at 5:17 am

If that’s what’s behind your story, my apologies.
I know that when we have felt rejection it colors our perspective of that person or group.
I also know that every charity works hard to spread its help and that the physical services and facilities they provide cost money.
I also believe it’s OK to pay professionals when you need a professional job done.
I also know that there are not enough volunteers in the world and governments are dumping more and more of their responsibilities onto the general population at greater cost to the communities.
I am sorry for your experience and thankful that you stood on the frontline for others.
May you never again need to ask for help.
Karen C

Mom January 1, 2012 at 4:15 pm

I am so inpressed with your readers’ comments. And although I heartily disagree with Ryan’s stance, I will defend his right to say regardless of any backlash I may receive. As you know, I love a good romp into politics, etc. When I was growing up, the dinner table was often a forum for many debates, often heated. But on a new note, Pops and I are so very proud of you, Michael and Kamryn, for giving time to help those in need. Great dancing, Little Bit.

Love to all,

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