On December 23rd I had the opportunity to be a Salvation Army Bell Ringer for two hours. Before, I saw people in red aprons standing almost everywhere I went asking people for money for this charity and now I can officially say I have been a bell ringer! I was in New York City a few weekends before it was our turn to ring and I saw people dancing and having a good time. I was determined to be like them too. I looked up videos and thought of ways to make people smile while we were there. I got to do it with my mom, which I think made it all the more better and exciting. We did it not far from home at the Exton Mall. I definitely didn't have the courage to dance (so I give everyone who does dance a lot of credit) but I did bring my speaker for some fun Christmas music and I swayed with it and tapped the bells to the music when I could. We got lucky and got to stand inside a little bit which was great because it was so windy out! My mom found a way to do another service with it by opening doors for every one who came in with a "Merry Christmas" or "Happy Holidays" as well.
When we got there, we met a man who worked for the Salvation Army. He told us how he spent a lot of time volunteering with them and then was offered a job, which helped him a lot with paying for things. He was kind and it was nice to talk with him. Eventually a volunteer who goes around and changes the buckets came through and helped us by giving us our aprons (which we completely forgot was a thing) and the famous bell! He was so helpful and came back in the end to help us clean up as well. He even took a nice, quick picture for us :)
While we were ringing, we received a lot of smiles and of course some people who glanced at us and ran for the other door. A lot of people thanked us for our time and another person said he was just doing this last weekend. I was surprised with how many people donated. I assumed that because you see the red buckets everywhere people would be all out of money for the Salvation Army by the 23rd but I am grateful they were not! People donated pennies all the way to 20 dollar bills. One person even came in and gave us a whole bag of coins and said it was 172 dollars! He told us that he does something called change for change every year and he saves up his change throughout the year and gives it to a different charity. (That sounds like something I would love to try and I love the name!) Bell ringing gives you a good opportunity to people watch too... I didn't realize some people walk in and out of the mall multiple times in one visit. Someone came in and danced to our music for a little bit before donating, which made us all laugh and bring smiles to our faces. Towards the end, an older woman was waiting for her daughter to pull the car around and we were able to have a small conversation with her while she waited as well. I found that even if people didn't donate we were still able to bring a smile to their face through holding the door open, saying "Merry Christmas," and having small conversations. It made me happy to see others smile.
If you're interested in being a Salvation Army Bell Ringer, all you have to do is search your area on google! I found that a lot of areas are easily accessible through google, but the West Chester/ Exton area was difficult to find. Because I did it through the West Chester Area I added an article below that contains the information and email address! I suggest bringing a speaker and some friends or family and it will definitely be worth it! (They even have chairs if you need one! You just have to ask :))