Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Bell-ringing moments bring smiles & gratitude December 3, 2016

Me, ringing bells for the Salvation Army on Saturday morning in Faribault. Photo by Randy Helbling.

Me, ringing bells for the Salvation Army on Saturday morning in Faribault. Photo by Randy Helbling.

“WE’LL GET YOU on the way out,” he said, his smile wide.

I admit to skepticism. But, as promised, the pre-teen stopped after exiting Walmart Saturday morning to drop money into the Salvation Army’s signature red donation bucket.

“You’re a man true to your word,” I acknowledged, thanking him for his gift.




Likewise, I thanked many others—from kids to seniors—who donated money during my two-hour shift of ringing bells with my husband. I greeted every customer with a smile and wishes for a good morning and a Merry Christmas. Some looked me in the eye and repeated the greetings. Others hurried past, heads down. Whether they could give or not, I wanted them to feel my warm holiday welcome.




Many made me smile. Like the cool teens dressed all in black. They pushed coins into the slotted bucket then danced across the parking lot. I never expected them to give. Just goes to show.

Or the girls who gave as they entered Walmart and again on the way out. “We got two kisses,” one said to the other as they walked away. She was referencing the Hershey kisses I give to kids who give. It adds to the fun—to tell kids, “Wait a minute, I have something for you—a kiss.” And then I reach inside the pocket of the red Salvation Army apron and deposit a foil-wrapped kiss in their palms. And they smile like I’ve just handed them the most precious gift.


Randy ringing bells.

Randy ringing bells.

My husband’s favorite moment came at my expense when a man stopped, pointed upward and asked, “What’s that up in the sky?” I followed his sight line…to the sun. And then I laughed, getting the joke. And he laughed. And Randy laughed. We haven’t seen the sun through grey clouds in days.

But in that moment, the sun shone like a blessing upon us and our morning of volunteering for the Salvation Army Red Kettle Campaign.

© Copyright 2016 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


18 Responses to “Bell-ringing moments bring smiles & gratitude”

  1. Jackie Says:

    You two are the best! You had a nice day for ringing bells! Rick and I hope to ring soon with the grandkids, lots of time slots open so I’ll look for a warmish day!

  2. One of the truly charitable organizations The Salvation Army is a favorite of mine, especially at this time of year. God bless you and Randy for your support.

  3. Littlesundog Says:

    I love the kiss idea and I LOVE this post, Audrey! Your experience brought a smile this early morning (I was up at 4:00 helping FD set out this last day of rifle season). I worked in banking for so many years where I had to handle cash every day and eventually just hated to deal with it. I still loathe carrying cash at all and prefer plastic, but this time of year I make an exception and I keep a stash of it just for the Salvation Army bucket. I think today many people avert their attention or look away for a number of reasons. I don’t try to guess why, I just greet them anyway and smile. I think everyone deserves a little kindness.

  4. Almost Iowa Says:

    Thanks for volunteering…. 🙂

  5. Ahhhhh,
    People like you make the world so much sweeter!
    It’s always fun when the bell ringers talk to you!! xx

  6. treadlemusic Says:

    I’m sure you blessed many a heart!!!! Love the “Kisses”!!!!! Blessings (luv your card/letter)……………….

  7. Love that you guys do this. My kids donate every year. It’s the perfect time to have them do it after Christmas shopping and hearing an endless list of “I want”! Last year they asked if they could donate. 🙂 Boy that Sun was nice for the short time it lasted

  8. Valerie Says:

    YAY for Salvation Army and many thanks to you and Randy for volunteering to help them raise the money they use to help those in need!

  9. Sue Ready Says:

    To share the joy of the season and have a grateful heart-your community thanks you

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.