I think particularly of the new Christmas edition of Lone Star, the Salvation Army newsletter for Texas.
This is a slick paper, four-color , letter-sized document that reflects a high degree of professionalism. The cover story tells of a Chicago reporter who “loves the ringers but not the bells.”
It seems that his reporter, Rex Huppke, carried on a campaign “to rid the world of “unsolicited street ringing.” After making several calls he rang up the Chicago area Salvation Army headquarters. He reached the divisional commander, Lt. Col. Ralph Bukiwewicz, and told him the bell ringing really bothered him.
Without missing a beat, the officer came back, “Is the bell annoying? Yeah, after a while it becomes annoying.”
THEN HE continued: “But is a hunger pang annoying? You bet it is. Is the threat of being homeless annoying? Even more so. For me, whenever the annoying ringing keeps going, it really is an awareness issue. What we’re trying to do is not annoy but bring attention.”
The newsletter on its back page has a “Hands Across Texas” feature about Salvation Army volunteer Robert “Pappy” Blade, a retired Army full colonel.
“The Salvation Army is one of the best kept secrets out there,” he said. “I want people to know that they are a church and how much they do to help people. They don’t discriminate against anyone, they never judge and always act in a very Christ-like way. They do it because that is what Jesus teaches in the Bible.”
The back page also reports that nationwide, almost 3.4 million people volunteered their time, talents and resources to support the Salvation Army in 2012.
A cynical old newspaperwoman might question why people are willing to volunteer for causes that may spend more than half of their income on “expenses.” but the Salvation Army sets a fine example .
Only five cents of every dollar is used for fund-raising and only 12 cents for management and operations. The rest goes for programs and services.
That seems a mighty good reason to volunteer as one of the Lone Star bell ringers.