Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Ring-A-Ling...It's that time of year!

Yes, whether you like 'em or loathe 'em, it's the bell ringing time of year!

I've volunteered to ring bells for The Salvation Army in the past, but none has been as much fun as ringing with my partner in crime, Nikki. We wear Santa hats and act goofy and play music, but more importantly we walk away knowing we did our part to contribute to the greater good.

One of our clients at the PR agency where I work is The Salvation Army, both of metro Detroit and for Washtenaw County. I don't serve directly on the accounts, however, I hear the banter that goes back and forth and am amazed by the passion my teammates put into the work they do for the organizations. (yes, they are paid for the work, but not for the millions of hours they over service)...

It's on the news everyday: times are extremely tough in Michigan right now and unfortunately, the Salvation Army is experiencing it first-hand. Not only is the need for their services up more than 20 percent across the board (especially in the 'burbs, folks), but donations to their annual Red Kettle fundraising campaign is down a good chunk of change.

I've told my colleagues from time to time -- I think the issue is people just simply don't understand what their donation go toward. Let me tell you one thing -- it's not just thrift stores, people.

In 2007 alone, The Salvation Army in Metro Detroit utilized Red Kettle contributions to help provide the following:
  • 7,811 meals

  • Shelter for more than 2,110 men, women and children each night

  • To purchase 9,951+ winter clothing items, including coats, hats and mittens

  • To purchase 111,030 Christmas gifts for kids and seniors.

Additionally, donations also funded rehabilitation and after school programs, provided utility assistance, free legal aid and helped to make many more other beneficial programs possible.

So here's my thoughts on three ways to help TSA:

DONATE. Drop a few pennies into the bucket. Or maybe even an extra buck if you're feeling frisky. So you can't get a taco at T-Bizzle. At least you can feed a hungry, local child. Or maybe even two for that matter.

VOLUNTEER. What is 2 hours of time in the scheme of life? Not much. Bell ringing is great fun and is wonderful people watching. (sign up at ringbell.org)

SAY THANKS. It's a small gesture, but believe me, when you're standing out in the cold, hearing those words warms your soul right up.

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