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The kids and I pulled into Walgreens yesterday and as we were exiting the van we could hear the little bell ringing.  Belle remembered from last year that we put coins in the bucket to help people and John Boy was just mesmerized. 🙂  I quickly found some change in the van and gave them each a little something to drop in the bucket.

Our church has helped out with many service projects over the past 7.5 years since we moved here.  This one particularly has a soft spot in my heart though, because I have spent several hrs in previous years ringing that same bell outisde of many stores.  And while I know there are many great opportunities to give around the holidays, I make it my goal to drop even one coin in the bucket on my way in or out of every store during the holiday season.  I realize it is for a great cause but I also know what it is like to stand out there in the cold for a L-O-N-G time only to have a majority of the people walk past and completely ignore you.  It is amazing with a little smile, a quarter and a “Merry Christmas” can do to someone’s countenance.

It got me thinking.  And I think I came up with a brilliant plan for the next month or so.  Lets just say I would give $5 one time to the Salvation Army on my way out of a store.  Awesome.  Great.  Thank you!  However, seeing as how my goal is to make each one of those bell ringer’s smile and teach my kids about giving, I have a much better idea.  I plan to head to the bank later this week and exchange one of my $5 bills for $5 in change and put that in a cup in the van.  Better yet, I might ask the kids to pick out some of their change from their penny jar to add to the $5 to make it a family venture… yes I’m liking this!  That way, in event that I’m unorganized and somehow leave the house without a few quarters in my pocket for the kids to put in the bucket… we will have the cup full of money in the van ready to give when we hear that ringing!  Added bonus?  Teaching the kids about greeting people with a smile when they cheefully put their quarter in the bucket.  Who knew one could teach/learn so many things from those bright red buckets! 🙂

And coming from personal experience, go ahead and smile and make eye contact with the person ringing those bells, even if you don’t have any change to put in the kettle.  I bet you will get a smile in return!