What It Is Really Like to be a Salvation Army Bell Ringer

I will for-warn you, this is not all you think it is and this is not a 100% happy jolly article. Most of the experience was positive but there was an ugly negative so I’ll start from the beginning.

I had some free time on my hands this past Saturday. I am also a jolly Christmas-aholic. I could listen to Christmas music all day and not grow weary of it. I’m fairly certain I was a direct descendant of Santa himself, or definitely one of his elves. Therefore, being a Salvation Army Bell Ringer seemed like a logical thing to do. I love helping others. I love the holiday season. I love malls. What more could I ask for?

I jumped on the web to see how to become a Salvation Army bell ringer. A little bit of information filled out online and by the next morning I received a call from a Lt., we’ll call him Bill for privacy sake. Lt. Bill said meet me at the Valdosta Salvation Army so we can get your bucket, bell and apron. As requested I meet him at 12:00pm. We headed inside the building and filled out more paperwork. He tells me where to be etc….. I stress that I can only ring the bell for 4 hours, because I have a dog at home alone and it’s cruel to make her hold it more than 5 hours. Lt. Bill seems annoyed by my request, as he states he would like me to ring the bell for 10 hours (this is not a joke) but I don’t yield in my decision. Responsible pet ownership is not a joke. As we get ready to leave, me holding my Salvation Army equipment in hand, Lt. Bill says something that hits me like a rubber chicken to the face. Lt. Bill looks me up and down with an almost disgusted look and says “Also, tomorrow, make sure you cover your chest when you ring the bell.”……. His comment paralyzes me in a temporary moment of shock. To avoid confrontation I say “Well obviously I will, it’s going to be cold tomorrow.” and walk out.

The moment I get into my car, I well up with rage. I feel disgust. I feel shame, and anger. I immediately call my Mom and Fiancé but neither answer their phone. With an aching need to talk to someone I post about it on my FB page. I just had to get it off my chest (no pun intended). I was genuinely hurt. First of all, the feminine movement was created to literally stop situations just like this from happening. Why was he focused on my chest. I understand I have natural large breasts but I don’t wear them openly like a parade float. I didn’t feel I was dressed inappropriately. I was wearing a v-neck wrap dress that showed a small amount of cleavage but certainly not a large amount by any means. If a woman with a smaller chest were wearing the exact same dress, would he say that to her? I was being breast size judged! It boiled down too his poor choice of phrasing. If he would have said something like “Now please be aware we have a conservative dress code policy for our bell ringers. Please take that into consideration when representing our team tomorrow, and thank you for your volunteerism”, I would have left proud and excited. However, because of what he said, I left wanting to crawl out of my skin. It took a lot of Christian faith for me to tell myself, “Eve, don’t let this one person ruin the good work you’re doing for others. Don’t let those who go without, suffer more because of his judgement.”.

The abhorrent v-neck dress in question

You see, I’ve been fighting this large breast fight since I was 11. I was the only girl in the 5th grade to have boobs. In the 5th grade some mean boys made a rumor that I stuffed my bra. I even showed them to a popular boy so he would report back that they were real and to stop ridiculing me. I couldn’t believe 20 years later, I was still fighting the same fight. And sitting in my car, I felt exactly like 11 yr old Eve, who cried after showing Andy Hagar her boobs, just because she wanted people to leave her alone. Sigh.

The next day I was nervous. I was genuinely afraid he would be on site to set up the bell ringer stand and would also judge me once again for my attire. I wore a turtleneck, jeans and boots. Luckily he wasn’t there and the bell ringing was wonderful. I met so many wonderful people. All the children that gave were able to ring the bell. Their little eyes light up when they ring the bell for themselves. It’s really the best part.

Doing the Most Good

Some people I thought would give did, and some people I thought wouldn’t give didn’t. And some people I thought wouldn’t give did, and some I thought would, didn’t. It was quite the human social experiment honestly. I genuinely enjoyed talking to the people. I helped some folks with last minute Christmas present ideas. I mean, heaven knows I know what all the current sales are at any given time. (You’re welcome for the buy 2 get 2 candles from Bath and Body Works by the way). I sang Christmas songs with children. An elderly woman tripped up the steps and hurt herself. I was able to help her up, and help her reclaim some of her dignity. I saw multiple sweet older couples holding hands. Husbands helping their wives oft the step so they didn’t fall. It really was magical.

Did it really happen if you don’t post a selfie

Over all it was a rewarding experience and I would do it again. I will however request that I not work with Lt. Boob Judgement. Thankfully I’ve been fighting this fight for a long time so I’ve grown some thick skin. And if I let what every asshole ever said to me, get to me. Well, I’d never leave my house.

If you’re like me and can’t give monetarily this year. I mean obviously I’m broke, I’m a fashion blogger. In the infamous world of Carrie Bradshaw “I like my money right where I can see it…Hanging in my closet.” But you can give your time. And that’s what I did. My back is killing me now from standing in one place for 4 hours straight, but a small price to pay. Christmas is about giving. Give anyway you can. Be it your money, your talent, your ability to cook etc…. just give.

And with that I say,

Hugs, Kisses and All That Jazz,

Eva

2 thoughts on “What It Is Really Like to be a Salvation Army Bell Ringer

  1. How interesting. I’ve often wondered what the experience is like for the people behind the bell! As for Lt. Bill, he’s not only inconsiderate but short-sighted. Maybe a little cleavage might have inspired some who wouldn’t give to contribute? In any case, good for you. I had no idea the bell ringers performed other important shopping-related duties. Hope you have a great Christmas!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for your understanding. Merry Christmas!

      Liked by 1 person

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