By Melanie Brubaker Mazur
It's the time of year for ringing bells for the Salvation Army.
After a hiatus last year, I signed up for a stint this month and convinced one of my kids to come with me. He only lasted a half hour before he left with a friend who came to the Grocery Store, but I figured that was pretty good for a boy who always wants to go play ball.
I had picked a time which wasn't too cold, but the snow was starting to fall. Having lived in Alaska, I have a lot of cold weather gear and came prepared.
Even so, by the end of the second hour when it was dark, it was getting pretty cold, but I survived. A cup of coffee from the deli at the Grocery Store was a welcome warmer-upper.
I like ringing the bell because the money stays in La Plata County to help folks who need some assistance - a car repair, a few hundred bucks to help cover this month's rent, a bus pass ... we all know what that is like.
I also enjoy ringing the bell because I have to stop. Yep, stop right there.
I'm literally standing there, ringing. I guess I could yak on the phone, but that seems kind of rude, so I kept the phone turned off.
I'm not running errands. I'm not at work. I'm not watching the kids' activities or shopping for Christmas. I'm standing there, ringing a bell, and thanking the folks who are generous enough to put some money in the kettle.
The bonus is seeing people I know but don't keep in regular touch with. Lots of smiling, how ya doin, how's the family, etc. But that's a good thing, because while running errands, working and going to games, I don't always have time to do that.
One little boy asked what the kettle is for. I explained it's to help some folks who need a little help right now. He seemed satisfied with that answer.
At the end of my two-hour shift, one of the local coordinators, a gentleman who attends my church, came to get the kettle and asked how it went.
I replied fine and that it felt good to help folks after having received help this year.
He said he likes volunteering to ring every year because it gets him in the Christmas spirit.
In the church calendar, this is Advent, the season of waiting.
We're not good at waiting these days. I'm certainly not. Stopping and doing a simple act for a few hours is a way to slow down, think for a bit and feel fortunate that I have a roof over my head and food in the fridge. It could be a heckuva lot worse.
If you would like to help ring the bell for a two-hour shift, please call Carol Blatnick at 884-2884 to sign up, and I'd also like to thank her for coordinating the Bayfield bell-ringing every year.
Thanks for reading.