I recently listened to a Ted Talk about time management, and in that Ted Talk the speaker inferred that it is not about having enough time to do things, it is all about our priorities in life. If something is important to us, that becomes a priority, while other less liked tasks will become a non-priority.
Many of us will claim that we don’t have enough time in the day, but perhaps the real question is: what do we make a priority in our lives? Here at The Salvation Army, our priority during this insanely busy season is to provide food, toys, clothing, and a warm safe place for people in need, and so we set out to accomplish this by raising much needed funds at our Red Kettle locations. This vital campaign helps us ensure that no one goes hungry or without a Christmas in our community. This is daunting task, because it requires hundreds and hundreds of hours of manning a red kettle location during cold winter days by generous volunteers and additional hired bell ringers.
I would like to share with you an amazing story of generosity by one such volunteer. His name is Gary, and he has made bell ringing one of his priorities in life in order to help people in need. Despite fighting an epic battle of cancer in his life, last year alone Gary came out and rang the bell for The Salvation Army for over 60 hours during the month and a half long Red Kettle Campaign…and he’s back again this year to do the same!!
Gary has made it his mission to not only overcome his own personal health crisis, but to help others by ringing the bell at the red kettle. “I really love doing this, and I know that I am making a difference!” Gary said, as he stands all bundled up at the entrance of his local Walmart store. He never stops ringing the bell while we talk, each clang of the bell is another accomplishment in his life. You can hear him from the back of the parking lot, and every time Gary is out ringing that bell, you can rest assured he is smiling and welcoming shoppers warmly in the hopes that they will give…and give they do. His smile is infectious as is his personality. His priority? To help people in need despite his own daily health challenges. Gary could’ve stayed at home after being diagnosed, no one would have blamed him. He could have simply fought for his own life, that would certainly be understandable, but Gary has risen above his own mountainous challenge in order to tackle the challenges of others…by ringing that bell.
Gary’s story personifies for us the true meaning of Christmas.
It reminds us that giving is far better than receiving…that generosity and selflessness can touch the hearts of many by simply being willing and available to serve. The world needs more Garys in it.
It is so much more than just ringing a bell, it is the very heart of God living and becoming hands and feet in a very tangible way towards others. It is the countless acts of kindness shown to people when no one else is watching. It is giving God our very best instead of what is left over.
So let me ask you what are your priorities this Christmas?