Friday, December 28, 2007

It's Just A Red Kettle But It Inspires People For The Greater Good!

Every year, right after we gorge ourselves on Turkey and all the fixin's at Thanksgiving, the red kettles in front of malls and supermarkets are a sign the Christmas season has begun. Bells are used to attract the attention of people going in and out of the stores and at the Farmer's Market here in LA, there is a fully dressed Salvation Army worker singing Christmas Carols. This tradition has been going on for decades and the Salvation Army has helped thousands if not millions of needy families each year. It's hard to walk by one of these kettles without dropping at least something in. And in some places around the country, that's just what people did!

In Morgantown, West Virginia Salvation Army Major Richard Hathorn knew when and where it would happen, but he still doesn't know who slipped the $1,000 bill into one of the charity's Christmas kettles. Each Christmas since 1978, someone has covertly stuffed one of the big bills into a kettle in this northern West Virginia university city. This year, Hathorn says, the donor alerted the Salvation Army that the tradition would continue with a deposit between 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. Saturday at the Wal-Mart at University Town Center. During the appointed period, Hathorn carefully scanned the faces of people dropping money into the kettle, but he didn't spot anyone with a bill bearing the likeness of President Grover Cleveland. He found it later, wrapped inside a $1 bill. How's that for charity?

In Exton, Pennsylvania, an Army veteran who remembered getting free coffee and doughnuts from the Salvation Army decades ago gave a $10,000 check to a dumbfounded bell-ringer. "The $10,000 is to help pay for my coffee and donuts," he said in a handwritten note signed, "P.F.C." "Seems fair to me after 40+ years, with inflation and everything." The man gave the check to a volunteer outside a department store at the Exton Mall on Friday, said Capt. Gerald Morgan, a spokesman for the Salvation Army of Greater Philadelphia. The man remembered being given coffee and doughnuts while serving in World War II and wanted to return the kindness, Morgan said. His name was on the check and he has given large amounts in the past, but he asked the Salvation Army not to identify him.

Near Detroit, a gold bar wrapped tightly with bills, like a pig in a blanket, stood out starkly against the spare change inside a Salvation Army red kettle outside a Wal-Mart. The 1-ounce gold bar, wrapped with a $100 bill and then covered with a single dollar bill, was slipped unnoticed into a kettle Monday night at the Wal-Mart while trained dogs were collecting bills and coins from shoppers. "He, or she, probably slipped in the money while everyone else focused on the dogs," said Joanna Rose, who is co-captain of the Salvation Army's Livingston County unit along with her husband, Derek. Though they don't know who is behind the generosity, they are fairly certain it is the same person because of the stranger's signature move—covering a $100 bill wrapped over a gold bar with a $1 bill, Rose said. Based on current world prices for a one-ounce Troy bar of gold, the mystery donor's gift is worth about $800. It was the third year in a row a mysterious donor has put a gold bar in one of the kettles, she said.

Those kettles, no matter how annoying those bells and kettles might be, have inspired people each and every year. And although it only happens during the Christmas season, it's nice to see people giving to charities such as this and just presenting a spirit of joy and happiness to their fellow man. It makes me wonder why we can't be like this all year 'round! Ding! Ding! Ding! Ding! Ding! Ding! Ding! Ding! Ding! Ding! Ding!