December 12, 2012

Volunteering gives reason to season

GRADY COUNTY — We live in a beautiful, small town in Oklahoma. It's easy to go about our lives at school, at work, even at church and overlook the people who struggle, especially during this part of the year. When was the last time you volunteered in your community? I won't lead you to believe I volunteer, and make it seem I'm something I'm not. But, I write as someone who previously had no desire to volunteer, but who recently experienced the good that comes from it.

Recently my co-workers and I were asked - somewhat forced - to be bell ringers for a few hours at the local Walmart.

First off, let me say there is an art to ringing a bell for two straight hours. Also, who knew standing for that long was rather difficult? That is not the point. The point is, before that experience, I had never donated to a Salvation Army bell ringer. At all costs, I avoided eye contact and took a few extra steps to avoid the smiling faces that said "Merry Christmas" ever so cheerfully. I used to think that maybe they are just saying Merry Christmas to get a dollar or two out of me. I also questioned where this money was actually going.

People judge others by their appearance. People judge others based on what clothes they are wearing and how they do their hair. The funny thing is, donations and nice deeds have absolutely nothing to do with the way you look. Young high school boys, elderly women doing their afternoon shopping, single parent fathers and nurses were some of the many who took the time and effort to donate.

After a little kid would sprint up to the bright red bucket and flash me a bright smile, I couldn't resist responding with a big thank you and a jolly "Merry Christmas." Volunteering can change the cynical, and it can open your eyes to new things.

There are lots of different ways to donate and volunteer your time this holiday season. If bell ringing doesn't sound like your thing, you can help feed Chickasha's homeless community at the Resurrection Center, or  volunteer at the Festival of Light or you can donate presents to a child in need off of the Salvation Army's Angel Tree. Volunteering is one of the most rewarding things you can do this holiday season. Rewarding not only for yourself, but for the children and families you could be benefiting.

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