Who’s Behind That Bucket?


You’ve seen them, heard them and may potentially be one of them… a Salvation Army Bell Ringer. I’ve made a deal with myself this Christmas that every red bucket with a volunteer ringing, I will give whatever I have in my coin purse.

C’mon, don’t judge.

If you shopped as much as me, you would understand that this is frequent and generous – and if I am still empty from my last gift, I give a $1 or $5 – especially if there are kids ringing or they are subject to the harsh, cold winter elements.  Sure, I could tell you about the great and amazing things that the Salvation Army does with those donations, but you can read that online. What I want to do is to give you a perspective.

Who is that standing behind that bell, apron, bucket or Santa hat? For some reason I’m paying attention this year. I usually would drop money in, a few times a season, just to give to a good cause, but I keep thinking of 1997; 10 years ago. Back then, I worked for a staffing service. One of our laborers was injured on the job so under workman’s comp we had to give him some “light duty” work until he was cleared by his doctor to return to full duty. In just a few weeks, he was caught up on filing, cleaning, organizing and purging so being the season of bell ringers, we enlisted him to ring bells – paid! He didn’t want to, but if he refused, he was in essence refusing work ,and therefore, voluntarily terminating his employment. So reluctantly he set out daily for his eight hour work day of bell ringing. I really felt bad for the guy, I really did, but he was getting paid, and he was performing work, that was within his physical capability, so it was a win-win, right?

As a result of this, I am now much more sincere, appreciative and outspokenly thankful for those who elect to ring. I know most of bell ringers are not standing there out of obligation, but what if one is? Let alone eight hours of obligation? Could how we treat those people behind the pail be a ministry in and of itself? Maybe my poor laborer would have been more willing to set out for a day of being generous and want to serve in this capacity if people were kind and thankful. Unfortunately, that is not always true.

I have witnessed first-hand what it is like behind that little red kettle. Some people pretend you don’t exist. I always wondered, “How can you ignore that incessant ring?” I have even observed people literally going way out of their way to avoid the door that the bell ringers are in – using the Enter door as the Exit door as if to avoid that Grinch-like encounter. As believers, followers of Christ, let’s rally to thank everyone who is giving their time to serve. Why not? Shouldn’t we thank people for going above and beyond and for showing their support of such a great organization and worthy cause?

It’s so neat, now that I have decided to lean in and thank each volunteer for serving and expressing that gratitude by putting money into the pail, as almost to give a gratuity for their gesture, and showing genuine interest in the fact that a human being is bringing life to that lonely red pail. If any of them are there by force, maybe we can turn their hearts to feeling appreciated and cared for; not condemned, obligated or forced.

I have thoroughly enjoyed the responses that I have received from the bell ringers this year; it’s positive, refreshing and in a way, loving. It has given me a wonderful Christmas season attitude. I petition you to try it. See for yourself what a blessing it is to be nice, go above and beyond and express gratitude.

Tag! You’re it!

1 Corinthians 9:7 Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.

Matthew 25:40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

1 Samuel 16:7 But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”


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Gifts That Count


Today’s Devotion: Numbers 7

The second to the longest chapter in the bible and a very monotonous chapter at that. Eighty-nine verses and very repetitive as it describes each of the gifts that the princes brought to the tabernacle from each of the twelve tribes. My mind wandered as I read this chapter (confession), and I couldn’t help thinking about the song, “The Twelve Days of Christmas.” Every time the chapter shares which gift the prince presented I thought, “And a partridge in a pear tree!” I hope you see the humor – I was simply feeling the warm of the Christmas season as my Christmas tree glistens next to me, 12 tribes, 12 princes, 12 gifts.

Although, this chapter is much more serious than that; a very important message to you and me today. As much as this chapter seems to repeat itself, one of my applications that I believe God was speaking to my heart is how much He notices what we give. Some of the princes, namely the very first two, gave the identical gift. God couldn’t have said, “The first two princes gave a silver platter?”No! He spends paragraphs/verses describing it.

Why? Because we bring Him gifts and He pays attention – He notices. This is convicting to me because I just adjusted my monthly budget and reduced my offering. After all, its Christmas, I just got my tax bill in the mail, I’m going to be moving at the end of the month and with moving comes additional expenses. I justified, to myself, that I would ramp up my offering after things settled down.

I realize this is my issue and I’m personalizing God’s message to my circumstances, but that’s the beauty of God’s Word. It’s how He speaks to each and every one of us. You can read chapter 7 and get something completely different. If you do, and He does, please share it if you are comfortable.

The message I have for this cold, Wisconsin, Monday morning is that God cares. He cares not only what we give, but in the spirit in which we give it. God will continue to bless our Christmas season, provide for our tax bill and incur the cost of a move. It’s my flesh the fears, tries to control and withhold from the LORD feeling as if I need to “take care of things.” If you are feeling anxious about finances this season, based on what God showed me today, I have to say, “Put your trust in the LORD!”