I don't know how many years I have been ringing the Salvation Army bell at the Fareway Foods location on Christmas Eve but I do know it's always an enjoyable experience.  My Christmas Eve endeavor does go back to when the store was Nelson's and Rainbow Foods.  The reason I volunteer for the final Christmas Eve shift is because I believe Christmas Eve, families should be together and because I'm single with no kids it makes sense for me to do it.

Unfortunately again this year the Rice County Salvation Army Unit didn't have enough people sign up to cover all shifts from Thanksgiving eve through Christmas Eve.  Today was not as busy as it has been in recent years for whatever reason.  I speculate the fact Christmas Eve fell on a Monday might have something to do with it.  The last couple years it was on the weekend and it was very busy.

It was steady for the most part and many people said they heard me talk about bell ringing on the radio, which is nice but I really wish more people would become involved.

This year a gentleman held out his hand with two pennies and said it was all he had to place in the kettle and I reminded him of the widow Jesus held up as an example of giving and faith.  You remember the story in both Mark and Luke in the New Testament of the Holy Bible.

Mark 12:41-44 and Luke 21:1-4.  In Mark, "And Jesus sat over against the treasury and beheld how the people cast money into the treasury; and many that were rich cast in much.  And there came a certain poor widow, and she threw in two mites, (smallest Roman coins of the time) which make a farthing.  And he called unto him his disciples and saith unto them, "Verily I say unto you, that this poor widow hath cast more in, than all they which have cast into the treasury.  For all they did cast in of their abundance; but she of her want did cast in all that she had, even all her living."

King James Version (KJV)

In Luke, "And he looked up, and saw the rich men casting their gifts into the treasury.  And he saw also a certain poor widow casting in thither two mites (like our pennies).  And he said, Of a truth I say unto you, that this poor widow hath cast in more than they all:  For all these have of their abundance cast in unto the offerings of God: but she of her penury hath cast in all the living that she had."

King James Version (KJV)

I am not a Biblical scholar but my belief is Jesus is telling his disciples this story to emphasize the widow's faith and spirit of giving.  She gave from the heart and had faith that God would take care of her.  It's too bad we never learn what happened to her after this event.

Once again this year a woman wrote a check for $100 and placed it in an envelope and asked me to deposit it in the kettle.  Which of course I did.

I wished a Merry Christmas to all who passed by, not just those who gave, but I did thank those who dropped in a gift after my Christmas wishes. No matter the size, coins or paper.  As the Bible story indicates it is not the size but the spirit of giving that counts.  $100 is a lot of money to some people and two pennies is a lot for others to give.  Money after all is a man made invention.

One couple came by with their groceries in tow and the man pointed to the kettle and  told the woman in Spanish to place something in the kettle.  I said, "Gracias" and  you should have seen her face light up when she replied, "De nada."

The shifts are two hours long and time flies by when you engage with people.

I will admit there were many people who did not acknowledge me at all.  They ignored me completely like I wasn't even there.  I wondered why, but did not take it personal.

I challenge all of you to do this next year if you are physically able.  The Rice County Salvation Army helps so many people.

This year they provided meals for those who helped clean up after the tornado that hit Faribault, Morristown and the surrounding area and were in Morristown and Faribault right after the storm hit to offer assistance to people.

Rice County Salvation Army Kettle at Fareway Foods in Faribault. Photo by Gordy Kosfeld