Dec4MonRetrospective #54 December 4, 2017 Randy C. Hicks
It was December, 2013 and during the “ministry of madness” known to us as our Christmas Kettle Campaign I learned of an incident that occurred with one of our veteran volunteers.
It seems Charlie (not his real name) was pleasantly at work ringing one of those “silver bells” when he saw him. With mom in tow, a boy of maybe five or six years of age wearing blue jeans, an unzipped green winter coat, red tuque, and red mittens dangling from strings at the ends of his sleeves and what appeared to be slightly over-sized snow boots, was burrowing through the shoppers in a determined effort to get to the Kettle (Bubble!). He stopped suddenly at a safe “personal-space-distance” and watched as folk dropped something in the “thing” next to the man with the bell. The man doing this strange job was kind of tall and had white hair and a white mustache; he was dressed neatly in black shoes, pants, and wearing a red sweater. He had a big smile and a big “thank you” for everyone who passed by, even for those who did not give him anything. He also said “Merry Christmas” to all the shoppers.
Michael’s (not his real name) eyes, now drawn to the “thing,” for the first time realized that people had been dropping money into that strange contraption. He could see nickels and dimes and quarters and loonies and twonies and there was paper money too! Fives, tens, twenties, and yes, he couldn’t believe it – there was at least one - one hundred dollar bill - just like the one gramps had given him for his birthday last year. “Wow!” thought Mike, “what is this all about?”
That’s when he now sensed that someone, other than his mom, was standing right next to him. It was the man with the bell. “Good day young man. Your mom tells me that you are a good helper. Is that so?” “Yes sir,” Michael replied. “Do you think you could help me?” the man asked, his eyes sparkling and smile shining as he held out his hand with the bell. Mikes eyes grew almost twonie-sized as he looked at the bell, then at the man, and then his mom, who was also smiling and nodding her permission. Taking the bell, he first, shyly shook it just a little, then a little harder, then just like Charlie. And just like Charlie, he remembered to smile, say thank you, and wish everyone a Merry Christmas! Why, he and Charlie even sang two verses of “Jingle Bells” right there in the food court.
Before leaving, Charlie took the time to explain to Mickey what the “thing” was and where the money would go at the end of the day. Michael became very pensive as he heard Charlie speak of getting food, clothing, and even toys for families with children who had very little. Charlie spoke too of how The Salvation Army tries to help people all year long and that doing so was a way to show others what Christmas was all about - that God really loves them. Having grown quiet Michael waved goodbye to Charlie and left the mall with his mom.
Later that day as Charlie was about to wrap up his “kettle” shift and head for home he thought he heard someone calling his name. Finding the direction of the sound he looked down the aisle. Heading toward him at full tilt, with his mom trying to keep up, was Michael, carrying a small, decorative bag in his right hand and waving to Charlie with his left.
Panting and trying to catch his breath Michael said “Oh Char….lie! I was…a…fraid that I had…missed…you!” Charlie crouched so that he could look Mickey in the eye “Take it easy there speedy! What are you up to?” Now much calmer, Michael handed Charlie the bag he’d been clutching. “Here Charlie, this is all of the money that was in my piggy bank. I want you to put it in the bubble for the kids you were telling me about.” “Well Michael, that’s a fantastic thing to do,” turning to the mom, “but are you sure this is what you really want?” “Oh, he’s sure!” the mom replied, “He hasn’t stopped talking about our earlier visit and wouldn’t stop begging me to bring him back! And he insisted we get here before you had left!” “Ok Michael, why don’t you help me get these coins into the bubble and thank you my young friend, you have a really big Christmas heart!”
Randy C. Hicks
December 2, 2013
He heard the sound but where the source?
His little mind was hooked
A bell perhaps? It well could be,
And so he looked and looked!
There stood a man with hand outstretched
Shiny object ringing
It was a bell! Of that no doubt,
Ringing! Singing! Ringing!
Next to the man there was a thing
He didn't know just what
Big, round, clear - a plastic bubble?
At least that was his thought!
Some people stopped - put money in
They smiled and walked away
The man said, "Thanks! Merry Christmas!
You have a real good day!"
Catching his eye the man bent down
And offered him his bell
With mom's permission he took it
And rang it really well!
But what about that bubble thing
Where would the money go?
He asked his new-found friend to tell
He felt that he should know!
"This money helps the boys and girls
Who don't have very much
To get gifts and food for Christmas
Or scarves and mitts and such!"
The tiny lad just soaked it up
His heart with love did burn
Mom took his hand and they went home
But he planned to return!
Return he did with pockets filled
At home an empty bank
The shiny coins depositing
Now in the "kettle" sank!
He'd do his part to make this world
An even better place
"A child will lead" the Good Book says
There's hope yet for our race!