Please give (and you shall receive)


University of Kentucky student Shannon Frazer, pictured in the Kernel office on 10/14/09. Photo by Ed Matthews

Column by Shannon Frazer. E-mail [email protected].

I love Salvation Army workers.

You’ve probably noticed every year around this time, bell ringers stand outside grocery stores everywhere, collecting donations for the Salvation Army charity during the holiday season.

A couple of weekends ago when I stopped at the grocery store, I had the genuine pleasure of running in to one of those bell ringers who put a smile on my face.

He was singing “Jingle Bells” at the top of his lungs, dancing around and carrying on. People couldn’t help but be gracious for his presence, and dozens were crowding around his little red kettle to donate.

According to the organization’s website, the Salvation Army has a long history of giving, starting with its founding in London in 1852 by William Booth and his wife as a way to reach the people in society who were among the “lost multitudes of England.” In 1878, Booth called these people his “volunteer army,” which was then changed to the Salvation Army. Today, Salvation Army soldiers serve across the U.S. and in several other countries, tending to the needs of less fortunate people.

While one bell ringer standing outside in the cold doesn’t exactly coincide with my idea of an army, that’s not the point.

Why does an especially outgoing worker have to prompt us to give our money to worthwhile causes? Better yet, why do we choose to be charitable only during the holidays?

More people need to be like the Booths. Rather than waiting for those in need to express their struggles, the Booths were proactive in providing resources.

Today, we turn our heads and avoid eye contact with bell ringers (and probably more often than we’d like to admit). Or we might toss some change into the bucket, thinking it won’t make a difference to us either way.

What’s ironic is these same head-turners and change-tossers were probably among the first in line during the Black Friday madness to buy this year’s “it” item and who will probably spend more on family, friends and co-workers in the month of December than some of those less fortunate will see in a year.

We need to be our own bell ringers. We shouldn’t wait for December to roll around to open up our wallets.

Even if you’re a poor college student like me, consider the difference you’re making by investing in the less fortunate.

The Salvation Army is one of the more widely recognized charities, but countless others are in need of donations this year, every year and during all times of the year.

Give money, volunteer time or do something else to show you care. You’ll be helping out others, like the dancing and singing worker I saw in the parking lot.

You’d be surprised just how far a little generosity can go.