Thursday, December 19, 2013

Red Kettles, Tradition and Why It's Important

“Hurry up, Mom. It’s cold!” complained my son as we stood outside a store, the first winter snow slapping us in the face. I was digging in my purse for a dollar to put in the Salvation Army red kettle. “Let’s just skip it,” he said. “What difference can just one dollar make?”

Just then I was able to put my gloved hand on the dollar bill I just knew was in there. I stuffed it in the kettle and we rushed on. But his comment, “What difference can just one dollar make?” weighed heavy on my mind. I wanted him to understand that it DOES make a difference; that our tradition of never passing a kettle without putting in a dollar was important.

So we volunteered one night to join other Salvation Army employees who volunteer to count kettle money. (No small feat for a germaphobe like me; money is riddled with grime and germs!)

Bell Ringer Eli Spillman
We all met in a secluded, private room and proceeded to empty the kettles that had been out with bell ringers that day. The paper money was all wadded or folded up as it must be to slip through the little slot on the kettles. Our job was to unfold each and every bill and smooth it out so it would go through a bill counting machine.

I was worried my 13-year-old would find it tedious and boring but he attacked the job in earnest, carefully smoothing the wrinkles from each bill, doing a little “happy dance” when the bill turned out to be a $10, $20 or $50 and dancing all the way around the room when he found a $100 bill. He was a good worker and as we left I was proud to accept compliments from the other adults about him and his great attitude.

But my “aha” moment came on the way home. We rode silently in the car; me focusing on the icy roads and him listen to “his” music through his headphones. Midway there, he took off the headphones, turned to me and said, “Mom, thanks for letting me do this tonight. Now I get why you put a dollar in every red kettle we pass.” With that he put his headphones back on and turned his focus to the screen of his phone.

I pulled into a QuikTrip and before getting out in the frosty weather to pump gas, I had to ask him what he “got” from that night.

He gave me that look that only a teenager can when they think you’re asking a question that they believe has an obvious answer and said:

“I realized tonight that it isn’t that the money WE put in that makes a difference, but it’s the money we ALL put in that does. If everyone did what we do and never passed a red kettle without putting SOMETHING in, just think of all the good things the Salvation Army could do with all that money. It’s pretty awesome, don’t you think?”

Yes, son, it is awesome. And so are you for “getting it”. I wish more did.

Friday, Dec. 20, from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., the Tulsa Police and Tulsa Fire Department are having a bell ringing competition at Woodland Hills Mall. Go help them out!

Friday, Dec. 20 and Saturday, Dec. 21, money dropped in Salvation Army kettles will be matched dollar for dollar.

I invite you to join my son and I in our tradition of always putting something into every red kettle we pass. It makes a difference.


Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Toys Drives Galore!

As Christmas speeds towards us and the Angel Tree deadline approaches (this Friday, the 13th!), I want to highlight other ways to contribute to those needy children on the Angel Tree. If you can't afford to fulfill an Angel's whole wish list, consider purchasing 1 or 2 toys and drop them off (new & unwrapped) at a local toy drive! This year, we have 11 local toy drives, supporting the "Forgotten Angels" of the Angel Tree. With so many options, there's one close to you!

Our annual partner, Bank of Oklahoma, is accepting toys at each of their local Tulsa area branch locations.

Another traditional partner is Oral Roberts University (ORU); we love having this generous college community on board. Word on the street is that the college students love taking a 'trip to their childhood' when they go to buy Legos, Playdough and baby dolls!

This year, we are honored to have a number of local businesses join us for another year! Participating businesses include:
 Merritt's Bakery (all 3 Tulsa locations)
Tweet 4 Toys
The Alliday Show
Apsco, Inc.
Firstar Bank
Andolini's Pizza (both locations, Tulsa and Owasso)
Dilly Deli (downtown Tulsa)
 and we want to welcome Lakewood Park apartment homes on board as well!

Both Andolini's Pizza and Dilly Deli will make it worth your while to come in, offering a generous free pizza or 20% off (respectively) for the donation of a new toy! Sounds like a lunch date to me!

Andolini's in particular is collecting for older children (9-12), who are often considered 'more difficult' to buy for...good options for older kids include Legos, magic sets, craft and art sets, sports balls, journals, etc.!

Lastly, we are excited to renew our relationship with our old friends the Tulsa Oilers, as they host their annual Teddy Bear Toss at the December 21st game! Bring a teddy bear to the game to toss on the ice at half time; bears will be delivered to St. Francis Children's Hospital and to the Salvation Army's Joy Center! And say hi to our volunteer bellringers as you go into the game!

 Help make these community toy drives a success; donate!

~Vicki (aka Toy Drive Queen)

Monday, December 9, 2013

Give Santa A Helping Hand

For far too many area children – and Seniors – Christmas morning isn’t about squeals of laughter and torn paper and flying ribbon. It’s another day of wondering what the next meal will be or if there will even be one; of questioning why Santa visits other people’s homes but not theirs.

But through the generosity of Tulsa metro area residents and The Salvation Army Angel Tree program this scenario doesn’t have to happen. But we need your help.
The branches of the Salvation Army Angel trees in our area this year were heavy with more than 9,000 angels for adoption. Each paper angel represents an underprivileged child (angel) or senior and has a short list of gifts he or she hopes or needs to receive this Christmas.

As of today, Monday, Dec. 9, nearly 8,200 of these precious angels have been plucked from the trees and gifts are being purchased, giving Santa a much needed hand.

Although that is a wonderful thing, that number means there are still just over 800 angels that still need “adopted” or they will face a bleak and empty Christmas.


And time is running short.

Angel tree gifts have to be returned to The Salvation Army by Friday, Dec. 13. Why so soon? For The Salvation Army, “Christmas Eve” is Dec. 18 because distribution of these 9,000+ angel gifts (and the accompanying food baskets) begins on Thursday, Dec. 19. The Joy Center volunteers need time to double-check the gift bags (yes, we DO check the list and check it twice, just like the song says) to be sure gifts are appropriate and that the gifts are matched to the tagged angel.

We know the weather has been a challenge but our countdown has begun. We need the angels adopted and then we need their gifts returned to us.

Angels may be adopted from the Woodland Hills and Promenade Malls, the Broken Arrow Boys and Girls Club (1400 West Washington), Walmart SuperCenter at 121st and Elm in Broken Arrow, the Sapulpa Walmart and Sand Springs Walmart. Gifts should be returned to their adoption location.

Can you help? Will you? Even Santa needs a helping hand sometimes.



Friday, December 6, 2013

Kettle Matching Saturdays: $1 = $2!

When you step outside, it hits you right in the face: it's cold.

Despite the frigid temperatures, our bellringers are outside, standing on their feet for eleven hours, working hard to help The Salvation Army bring Christmas to 4,200 families in the Tulsa area.

When you pass one of these bellringers, say "hi" and throw in whatever change you may have with you. It's even more important to do this on every Saturday through Christmas. Why? Because three generous Tulsa companies are MATCHING every dollar that gets donated.

On Saturday, December 7th, Aaon is matching every kettle donation up to $5,000. This means if you put $1 in a red kettle, it will turn into $2. This is the second year Aaon has pledged to be a Matching Kettle Sponsor and we appeciate their generosity.

Tulsa Gold & Silver is a trailblazer in our Matching Kettle campaign. 2013 marks the third year the company has pledged to double kettle donations. On December 14th, Tulsa Gold & Silver will match up to $10,000. The following Saturday, December 21st, the company will double donations up to $15,000.

Rachel Davis, whose husband owns Tulsa Gold & Silver, knows the Salvation Army well. Her parents are former officers in the Army! Their act of kindness has been huge in helping us reach our kettle goal the past two years.

 We also want to say a special thank you to Lawn America for being a Kettle Match sponsor on November 30th. The company pledged to double donations up to $5,000 and we were able to meet that goal! 

Spread the word! If you see a red kettle, donate what you can. We have less time to ring bells this year because Thanksgiving fell late in November. Thank you for helping us DO THE MOST GOOD in our community.