Join an army of elves

The warmly dressed river of humanity flows past the Salvation Army kettle with hardly a break.

Occasionally, someone pops out of the flow; usually, an older, grey-haired woman, plunks in coins or bills, and is swept back into the river.

I write about leadership, but leaders don’t just run companies and countries; we don’t even notice some of our best leaders. They are the grease that makes our society run, the numerous and anonymous volunteers who help and who give.

“I am a huge believer in giving back and helping out in the community and the world. Think globally, act locally, I suppose,” Steve Nash, former two-time NBA MVP and current head coach of the Brooklyn Nets, once said.

“I believe that the measure of a person’s life is the effect they have on others.”

There is no greater measure of a life well-lived than helping others, giving back to the community that nurtures us, helping those who, through no fault of their own, are less fortunate and less well-to-do than we are.

There, but by the grace of God, go all of us.

The Salvation Army needs a few more good volunteers — bell ringers, elves — to stand at their Christmas kettles, collecting the money deposited by the nameless people who sweep by the clear balls.

This is the money that funds the good work the Sally Ann has been doing since it was formed in London in 1865.

The Salvation Army will fill as many hampers as it can this month.

“This has been a hard year for many in our community,” Kelowna Salvation Army executive director Darryl Burry says.

“The impacts of COVID-19 have been far-reaching and we have seen a 61% increase in the number of individuals and families reaching out for support. As Christmas approaches, we believe that those numbers will only continue to climb.”

But it isn’t just the Sally Ann that wants good people. The Central Okanagan Food Bank, Gospel Mission and Metro always need help.

Food Bank volunteers put in 25,000 hours a year, and now, as they fill 2,500 Christmas hampers, more are needed.

My friend, Marilynne Fine, is one of the leaders, the volunteers, helping the food bank fill those hampers. In her email to her supportive friends, she wrote:

“If you still have some funds available to help someone in need over this season, please consider donating money to the food bank. They are more desperate than ever as events like “Stuff the Bus,” scheduled for (last) Saturday, has been cancelled and gone to an online event due to the escalating COVID-19 cases.

“$1 is turned into $3 with their buying power with generous local retailers, so they are much better off with money than packaged food from our pantries.”

I will join her and hundreds of others, but there is always room for one more, one more leader, one more person giving back.

That person could be you. Come join the river of volunteers who will make a difference to the less fortunate in the Central Okanagan.

This holiday season, call the Salvation Army, the food bank, Gospel Mission or Metro, and many other fine organizations that make Central Okanagan communities a caring place to live.

Be the example and follow the examples. be a leader and a lifeguard for that river of humanity that is always flowing.

To quote Tommy Douglas, “Courage, my friends; ’tis not too late to build a better world.”

Let’s start with this holiday season.


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