Sunday, December 25, 2011

Gifts and Giving

At this time of year, I get really excited about presents. Don't you? I love to buy them, to give them, and to open them! And when I finally pause and remember that God already gave us the best gift, I get even more excited!  This is His gift: For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 6:23).

What can we give in return after having received God's best gift? Matthew 10:8 is one of my absolute favorite scriptures in the Bible. It says "Freely you have received, freely give." This verse is not talking about actual presents, but about your talents, abilities, and spiritual gifts. It reminds me of  what was given to me, how many blessings I truly have (health, home, family, a great church, friends and a job), and then nudges me again and again to "give." Sometimes it's giving time/volunteering, sometimes it's money and other times its an act of service.

During this Christmas season, I encourage you to take time and search your heart, really listen to that still small voice. What is it that God is asking of you? What can you give? Then, say "yes."

Donate Today or text TULSAVOL to 27138 to get a monthly volunteering reminder from us.

God Bless,

Rhonda McDaniel, Volunteer Coordinator

Friday, December 16, 2011

Random acts of kindness

 A few days ago a reporter asked me if we had experienced any random acts of kindness this Christmas season. Yes, Yes, YES!!! Here’s a quiz: What do these groups have in common? Tulsa Belly Dance Academy, Celebrity Attraction’s “The Addams Family”, CFSII , Social MediaTulsa and dog owners. You guessed it: they have all donated toys, treasure and time to The Salvation Army this holiday.
Thanks to Social Media Tulsa
& Captured Charms Photography
When the Belly Dance Academy held its holiday performance, they discounted admission for people who brought toys to donate to us. Celebrity Attractions is offering a pre-sale on tickets to the musical “The Addams Family” and will give us $5 from every ticket sold. The 200 employees at CFSII adopted 300 Angel Tree families. Social Media Tulsa hosted several meet ups to collect toys, then sorted toys for their “Tweet for Toys” event. I cannot leave out Morgan Caywood, the wonderful young woman who three years ago started the Bark Park Toy Drive, when dog owners (and their dogs) gather at a Bark Park and collect toys for us. Two of the three years Morgan and her friends have endured dreadful weather and the perennial question “Are we supposed to bring a toy for a dog?” The list above is really the short list, because people call every week offering something we need, even if it’s just a word of encouragement. Random? Yes! Kindness? Yes! More to come? Yes, yes and yes!


Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Shout Out to KHITS

Carly Rush is a good sport. Anyone who used to listen to Carly in the mornings on the late, great KBEZ knows that. KBEZ has changed to BOB FM and Carly is promotions director for BOB and K-HITS 106.9 FM. For the second year, Carly has headed the Stuff the K-HITS RV Campaign. Carly parked the K-HITS RV at area Walmarts from Monday to Friday last week and welcomed people who donate toys. I caught up with the KHITS RV Friday in Owasso and it took me 20 minutes just to find a parking place on the back 40.
Monday, under my excellent parking supervision, Carly started to drive the RV into our toy warehouse until Rick Thompson, our savvy maintenance manager, told me it was too tall. It meant Carly had to take the RV all the way around the building again, and the driveway had turned into an obstacle course of vans, trucks and a giant Ryder truck. She made it and I asked teenage volunteers to unload the hundreds of toys while Carly and I drank coffee and ate brownies. The Christmas season at The Salvation Army is what I call ‘crazy busy’ but it’s all worth it, especially when I can have a few relaxed minutes with a friend who cares so much about people who need help. It makes it all worthwhile. Thank you K-HITS and thank you Carly!


Monday, December 12, 2011

Angels at American

American Airlines’ announcement of bankruptcy hit home with me – my husband Gary works for AA. Yet I was surprised when I got several calls from reporters asking if we’re worried about getting AA’s support during Christmas. It never crossed my mind to worry. Every year for the past five years AA employees have adopted 1,000 angels from our Angel Tree. With more than 8,000 kids to buy toys for, AA puts a major dent in our shopping list. And the best thing is that they start early! I was so surprised to run into Wendyl Griffin in our warehouse early last month – he delivered three truckloads of toys from AA before it was even December. Today, out at the maintenance base, we thanked AA in front of the media. AA managing director Paul Creider told reporters how much the Angel Tree program means to employees. Jeff Buckingham from AA Communications told me that he always rings bells with his son’s Boy Scout troop. Today Wendyl will deliver more truckloads of toys – not one less toy than AA donated before filing for bankruptcy. The company may be bankrupt but the hearts of AA employees are doing just fine. Thank you, American Airlines.


Bedlam. Really.

It was a more than a week ago, and everyone is still talking about the Bedlam game, so I’m going to talk about it too. I went to a Bedlam Watch Party with the best food in Tulsa: Hot wings, spinach dip, chili, cookies… you name it, we had it. Ginormous TV: check. Cheering and shouting: check. People in pajamas: check. TV reporters: check. My party was at the Center of Hope and my hostess was Cathy Kumm, an amazing woman who during the week heads up our Emergency Financial Assistance program. Cathy hears a lot of sad stories during the week, and sometimes she has to tell people who apply for financial assistance that they don’t qualify. It’s a tough job and Cathy deserves all the fun she can have. So six years ago, she started hosting a Bedlam party at the Center. She did it as a volunteer, it’s certainly not in her job description. Cathy’s idea was to help guests at the center by giving them an experience they would likely have if they had a home. Her grandsons started helping her host it as young children and now they are teens. More than 80 guests came Saturday night, and their ages ranged from newborn to elderly. I invited reporters and during interviews Cathy told them she received a lot more from hosting the party than she thought she gave. “It warms my heart,” she said. Mine too.


Thursday, December 8, 2011

Merritt’s Bakery Makes Holiday Giving So Much Sweeter

I’m new to the world of fundraising and started working as the Director of Fundraising for The Salvation Army of Metro Tulsa right before the busiest time of the year: Christmas. It’s been amazing to see how much our community is willing to help those in need, but one company is stepping up big this holiday season.

Merritt’s Bakery is known for its delicious cookies (the thumbprint cookies are my favorite – and the most popular), yummy cakes and other wonderful pastries. The holidays are the busiest time of year for Merritt’s, but that’s not stopping the company from helping the Salvation Army in Tulsa.

Merritt’s will be a drop-off site for our annual Toy Drive. People can bring a new, unwrapped toy to any of Merritt’s three stores and simply drop it in the box located near the entrance.

The bakery will also have a couple of red kettles located on counters inside each store. If you have a few dollars, or some leftover change, drop it in one of those kettles. The red counter kettles will be in stores from November 17th-December 24th.

But that’s not all. Merritt’s Bakery is also providing fifteen dozen donuts a week to our bellringers during our Kettle Campaign. Our bellringers stand on their feet for hours. If it’s raining, snowing, or the weather is bitter cold, our bellringers will still be outside, standing, ringing those bells. The donation from Merritt’s Bakery is a great way to say thanks to these bellringers who are working hard to help the needy this holiday season.

All of this comes after a partnership with Merritt’s Bakery this summer for “Donut Day.” The event benefitted The Salvation Army and raised funds for our essential programs!

Thank you Merritt’s Bakery. It is this type of generosity that reminds us what is important this season: helping EVERYONE have a good holiday.

-Carrie Salce

Friday, December 2, 2011

My first bell ringing experience

This year marks my third Christmas with The Salvation Army. (Those who work here judge seniority by this and not the number of years actually worked.) My first year I volunteered sorting toys at the Joy Center and counting our kettles. Both were real eye-openers to the generosity of our volunteers and donors. My second Christmas I wanted to try something new so did the toy sorting, kettle counting and added in the Angel Tree experience at the mall. I should have written an entire blog about how much I learned there! This year I knew what I wanted to do, and this week I did it!
Rhonda & Matt
I was a bell ringer! I spent three hours ringing the bell in front of the Reasor's at 17th and Yale. A number of the staff at my office did too (thanks Rhonda & Matt, Paula, David, Carrie, Arnie, Ann and Rick)! I did a morning shift and two in the evening. I have a renewed respect for anyone who does it. Below are a few of my random thoughts for you to enjoy.

Smile at your bell ringer and don't be scared to strike up a conversation. So many people said kind things for me and it made me feel wonderful, I enjoyed a lot of the conversations I had.
You don't have to apologize to a bell ringer if you don't have change. Just double up next time (kidding!!).
Standing in front of all those people spreading a little Christmas cheer felt really good (if it was a little cold)!

Carrie and Rocco
Kids who put money in the kettle are the cutest. One employee told me that an older little boy came up to the kettle with his toddler baby sister. He dropped his coins in the kettle no problem and a big smile on his face. His little sister reached up as high as she could and struggled to get her coins into the slot. "It's her first time," the older brother explained. It's never too early to learn how to put money in a kettle!


You have lots of great moments ringing a bell, sign up individually or as a group today! 


Thursday, December 1, 2011

Shout out to Tulsa Gold & Silver

The first Salvation Army Tulsa Area Command was formed in 1906, so it’s not surprising that our connections reach far and wide. Recently, a historic Salvation Army connection and a lot of generosity resulted in great partnership. When our new special events and fundraising director Carrie Salce had just about given up finding a sponsor to match our kettle income for an entire Saturday, she opened her e-mail and found a message from John Davis, the owner of Tulsa Gold & Silver. He pledged to match ALL kettle donations up to $10,000 on Saturday, Dec. 3!  There was more than a little excitement in the development department and hugs all around. John’s generous check could not have come at a better time. (I’ve found that life’s events often unfold that way.) It turns out that John’s wife, Rachel, is a longtime friend of one of my favorite coworkers, Elaine Story. Elaine is a lifelong Salvationist who grew up in a Salvation Army Corps (church) in West Tulsa. Rachel’s parents were officers at the West Tulsa Corps when Rachel was a teenager. When she was older, Rachel and Elaine worked together at the Salvation Army Tulsa City Command, which later became the Tulsa Area Command. So when you’re out and about Saturday and see Tulsa Gold & Silver’s signs on the kettles, remember your gift will be DOUBLED and give generously! Also, if you don't mind – visit their store on 41st and Memorial and thank them for us!