When I think of the Christmas season, I am immediately reminded of the most wonderful time of the year. I simply adore the hustle and bustle of holiday shopping, the beautiful decorations, the crispness of the winter air and even the long, tedious lines where you can use your downtime to talk to complete strangers and share in the spirit of the season.
One thing I always enjoy at Christmas is zipping in and out of stores, where I often come across some of the Salvation Army bell ringers. It warms my heart to realize that these precious people are donating their time to volunteer for a very worthy cause. When I have a couple of dollars, or if I happen to have some spare change, I always try to drop my money into one of their red kettles.
It makes me feel grateful to be able to give even a small amount back to others as I come barreling out of a store where I’ve often just spent a ridiculous amount of money on things for friends and family that might not even get used or that might not even be needed or appreciated.
It makes me sad sometimes that I don’t carry cash with me much anymore. I feel guilty when I have nothing to put in the Salvation Army buckets. In fact, if I know I don’t have any cash on me, I often find myself going to the other door where bell ringers are not present, or if I must choose the one-and-only entrance to the store, then I try not to make eye-contact with the bell ringers. I know this sounds terrible, but it’s the truth. And I’ll bet many of you readers out there do the very same thing when you are in the same type of situation. You want to give, but you can’t.
Lieutenant Robert Coriston – corps officer and director of the Waxahachie Salvation Army, comments, “Our kettle contributions are down because of that very fact. People just don’t carry cash on them these days. Nevertheless, every year somehow, God provides what we need. This year our big issue is less people to ring the bells. We have fewer bell ringers, but more people have been giving. If that is not a God thing, then I don't know what is.”
Over the last couple of years, I have had the privilege of running into a very special bell ringer that volunteers at several different locations around the Ellis County area. In some years past, I have found this special Salvation Army “Angel” posted in front of the Midlothian Walmart store, but recently, this early 2019 Christmas season, I have reacquainted myself with the unique lady in front of the Hobby Lobby store in Waxahachie. Patricia Green, who hails from Louisiana but now resides in Waxahachie, has served in the Salvation Army organization for six years as a bell ringer.
“The pay I get in bell ringing is the joy, blessing and hope I help bring to people that I could in no other way give them," Green says.
She explains, “I was trying to get back into some sort of prison ministry a few years ago, when a met a young man who invited me to a church service at the Salvation Army in Dallas. I thoroughly enjoyed it, but I realized that driving to Dallas every day was not possible, so I looked for a Salvation Army church closer to home. I surprisingly found that one was located right here in my hometown of Waxahachie. After visiting the local organization, I found out about the mission of the bell ringing and felt the need to help. I’ve been doing my part as a bell ringer at Christmas time ever since.”
The especially endearing thing about Ms. Green’s bell ringing is the fact that she also sings Christmas carols with her beautiful, trained voice.
“Singing has always been an important part of my life," she says. "I grew up singing in my father’s church, and my love for music has led me several different places around the world where I can use my gift of singing, both here and abroad.”
Lt. Coriston remarks, “Being the new Salvation Army officer in Waxahachie in 2017 was the first time I had the pleasure of meeting Ms. Green. As for her singing, it is what makes her one of the best bell ringers we put out in front of stores.”
“Things like singing, dancing, wearing costumes and playing instruments, all make a difference”, says Coriston. “People who are full of joy, make others feel that joy. It gets them in the giving spirit. Even a warm smile goes a long way.
"What is extraordinary about Ms. Green is not only her singing, but how long she can do it. We can drop her off at a kettle site to work ten hours a day for six days a week, and she does not quit. Most people do anywhere from two to six hour shifts, but Ms. Green doesn't even like to be picked up early! She simply loves what she is doing. She is an amazing bell ringer who understands our mission.”
Green — called “the singing bell ringer” and “the happy bell ringer bringing joy to everyone” — says that she enjoys singing in many places, but particularly these days at the New Heaven Church in Dallas where Dr. Charles Thompson is the Sr. Pastor, at the St. Luke Baptist Church in Arcadia, Louisiana, and of course, at area Salvation Army events.
This talented lady says she uses the sidewalk stage outside of the Midlothian Walmart store or in front of the doors at the Waxahachie Hobby Lobby to practice her songs that she will be singing in church. And she admits that she loves to see the smiles her singing brings to the folks that often gather around her.
“I always enjoy hearing the various stories from people that come up to me and tell me how the Salvation Army has helped them in the past," she says. "I’ve heard some fascinating stories, some that go back as far as World War I."
Green is the mother of two grown sons and the grandmother to four grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. She has led a rather busy life, as she is a retired Army vet of 21 years, military police and drill sergeant, a retired school teacher, holds a BA degree in criminal justice with a minor in sociology, a Masters in theology and a Doctorate in ministry.
She is also an ordained minister and an author. Her book, “Will A Man Rob God,” talks about giving and receiving. These two sentiments seem a perfect fit for a kind, humanitarian like Ms. Green.
“Christmas, for me, is the best time of the year to give and really show that you care," Green says.