It's a holiday tradition. First you hear the bell and then you see the red kettles set up in front of a store. Volunteers are collecting money for The Salvation Army. Do you give? For the second year in a row, I've spent a little time ringing one of those bells. My daughter has helped and loves singing Christmas Carols while we're there. She's helped me get into the holiday spirit.
Of course, what helps even more is witnessing dozens of people stop by and put a little cash into the kettle. I'm amazed by people's generosity. Often those who seem to have the least give the most. And people give anything they can. The Salvation Army is grateful. I just interviewed Major Pete Costas who leads The Salvation Army of Wake County for Heart of Carolina Perspectives (airs Sundays at 11am).He told me donations are down about 7% in Wake County compared to this time last year. Eyewitness News Reporter Gilbert Baez reported that donations are down in Cumberland County as well and I suspect it may be the same story in many counties across our region. I'm sure there are many reasons. The economy is still struggling and many people who used to give are now in need themselves. Other people are shopping online and not stopping by the red kettles. The good news is there's still time to make a donation. You can do it online (see the link above) or you can stop by one of those red kettles. You'll find them at many Wal-Marts (like the one at New Hope Church Road in Raleigh where The Rotary Club of Raleigh members volunteer to ring the bell). The campaign lasts another week. Money collected in those kettles helps to pay for toys and clothes for thousands of children (8,000 alone in Wake County) who won't get anything else for Christmas. We live in a very prosperous and a very generous community. If you can give a little more this holiday season, please do. Merry Christmas.