My Life Adventures, Travel Experiences and Reflections

Saturday

Salvation Army Bell-Ringers

You’ve really got to hand it to those Salvation Army Bell Ringers.

When I was growing up, we would call them “The Sally Ann” and would see them all 'duded up' in their military outfits and joyously ringing their bell (overhead) at Christmastime in hopes of a little spare change for their kettle. Positioning themselves outside of supermarkets and on busy street corners for hours in the cold of winter to drum up a little cash for the poor. They would have broad smiles on their faces and would occasionally burst out in song. It was really something. They were respected for their faith and fortitude. So, what happened to the bell ringers of yore?

Today, our neighborhood Salvation Army Bell Ringers appear as though they could care less if you contributed or not. No eye contact, no broad smiles, no spiffy paramilitary uniform, bell ringing kept below the waist and if they broke out in song, I’m certain someone would call 911.

Quietly, standing in their designated spot with just a red kettle and a bell. I’m thinking that many of them do not speak English and are hired from the local day-labor site - I could be wrong but I call 'em as I see 'em. This is just another sign of the times as it appears as though the bell ringers could use a little ($) help as well. These are not our mother’s Salvation Army Bell-Ringers but I can’t bear to walk past them without giving a few coins as The Salvation Army always shows up for humanity.

Known for their help with the poor, homeless and destitute I was unaware that they also dedicate themselves to prisoner rehabilitations, fighting human trafficking and have a division dedicated to loneliness called “The League of Mercy”. Who knew?
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Addendum: 12/14/09 - I learned something new every day and today it came from my friend, Lisa... "Sometimes the bell ringers don't look so happy because they are fulfilling community service hours. I knew someone that had to ring the bell after he was arrested as part of his sentence."

Ahhhhh. It's all coming together now....I guess that could explain the lack of eye contact.
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A Salvation Army History Lesson ...
For those of you, like me who wonder, “why military?”… a little history… In 1865, William Booth (founder of The Salvation Army) held evangelistic meetings in the East End of London. Thieves, prostitutes, gamblers, and drunkards were among Booth's first converts. Many churches, however, did not accept Booth's followers because of their jaded pasts. So Booth continued giving his new converts spiritual direction, challenging them to save others like themselves and calling them “Salvationists”. (I'm guessing the military uniforms really helped with self-esteem)

Booth was reading a printer's proof of the 1878 annual report when he noticed the statement "The Christian Mission is a volunteer army." Crossing out the words "volunteer army," he penned in "Salvation Army” and his mission then followed a military model of leadership. http://www.salvationarmyusa.org/ ______________________________________________________

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