Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Two Hours at the Kettle

I forgot to mention my unique experience the day before we left for Japan.  I stood outside the Joeten Superstore from 10:00 am to noon, ringing the bell and collecting monetary donations for the local Salvation Army. The Salvation Army provides a weekly soup kitchen to those in need and operates a small thrift store with used items for sale.  Since childhood, I watched the volunteers outside the California stores and malls during Christmas time ringing the bell and I admit, I never gave it too much thought. This year as I shopped at the Joeten Superstore, the shiny red kettle and the ringing of the bell caught my attention and so I contacted Mr. Gillespie, who heads the operation on island to see when I could be scheduled.

I arrived just prior to the store's opening when a dozen or so shoppers were waiting patiently outside. I met Mr. Gillespie who provided simple instructions on the program: greet & smile to each customer wishing them a "Merry Christmas", ring the bell lightly, offer a small piece of candy to kids and generously thank the donors for their contributions with a "Thank You Very Much!" and a "God Bless You!".  It was simple yet highly satisfying.

Some of my friends and acquaintances were a bit shocked to see me ringing the bell but this is the new "me", the one who has more time to try different things, help others and meet more people. I find that every new experience is educational in some way.  I was pleasantly surprised to witness many generous people donating their money to the Salvation Army. Here on Saipan, the residents are familiar with the good deeds of the organization so they know that their gift goes to a worthy cause. Much like the rest of the world, the Saipan economy remains in the doldrums. Generally, families do not have extra to give.

My two hour shift passed quickly and I was very happy to be able to provide my time. In past years, I was unable to do so because work filled my Mondays~Saturdays, leaving me a narrow margin to do other things. I can say that witnessing a generous act makes me want to be more generous ~ it's a bit contagious! I do look forward to trying out other volunteer activities this year and seeing how they impact my outlook on my community.

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