During my time beside the red kettle, I learned a few things...well maybe I had 10 Red Kettle Observations:
- There is power in a good brand. The Salvation Army has been around since 1878. That's a really long time! But they have consistently been doing the same thing and it shows! People know the red kettle and they know what to do when they see it. Fill 'er up!
- Which, leads me to the second thing I learned...Pavlov was on to something. The ringing bell is a dead giveaway. People would walk right past the stand and red kettle, but the combination of the sign, kettle, ringing bell and smiling face make all the difference.
- People will pay money to have their picture taken with the big guy, even if he is a little guy! (see the picture of my blogger pal Tanya's kids below...she said there was a line forming...I think we have our plan for next year. Blogger kids in Santa suits!)
- The words "Merry Christmas" always bring a smile. One of the gifts of living in Northwest Arkansas is that the world is your backyard. It didn't matter if someone spoke fluent English, broken English or Redneck, when you say "Merry Christmas," a smile will always break a frown.
- If you do something enough times, it doesn't feel weird any more. When I walked up to my post at 10:58 and took the bell, it was very daunting. I guess I had things in my head about who the people were that ring bells and now I was joining their ranks. Plus standing in one spot and ringing a bell and saying "hello", "Merry Christmas" and "have a nice day" to everyone you see can be a little....weird. But, the more I said it, the less awkward it felt. And, the less awkward it felt, the more creative I got! I even made a few friends along the way (and actually saw 3 real life friends on their way in to buy some groceries!)
- Lunch is a really busy time at Sam's Club. Maybe lunch is a busy time because that pizza and those hot dogs look amazing..like I'm really glad I don't live closer to that cheap coke and pizza combo!
Coffman kids and the "Big Guy"
- A little live music always makes things better. Seriously some of my fellow bloggers brought along the music and a tambourine...check out #NWArkCares on Instagram for the video of the "dancing" that was going on too!
- When someone says something to you...its ok to respond. Say something. Its ok! And, funny/realistic responses are the best. And, in case you wonder...they do see the weird things you do to avoid eye contact and kind banter.
- People always feel like they need to explain themselves. If you don't want to give, you don't have to. But time and time again people felt like they had to tell you why they weren't giving. Or, that they gave at a different location. One guy even said "we give at the Wal-marts, at the other Sam's and Lowe's. If we give everywhere we go...we won't have anything to give." Many mentioned that they had already sent in their check and I think that's great. I know like any non-profit, the Salvation Army counts on those annual dollars to roll in.
- But, my favorite thing I saw was the look of generosity on a kids face. Kids loved to come up and bring money. A penny, a nickle a dollar. It really didn't matter. My friend Paige really said it best, "If I had one takeaway it was that your kids follow your lead. If you rush past eyes down, they will rush past with eyes down. If you greet someone with a smile, chances are they will too. Can't we all afford a smile?"Kids learn giving and generosity in lots of ways and one of them is watching their parents demonstrate it or stop and enable them to do so!
What an honor our group had to spend a day behind the kettle!
This post is part of the #NWArkCares series by the Northwest Arkansas Bloggers group. To view other posts, visit the Northwest Arkansas Bloggers Pinterest Board or follow #NWArkCares through social media.