My Uncle Brian passed away recently and one of the things we had to do as a family is notify the Salvation Army of his passing because every holiday season he worked for them as a bell ringer in the Chicago area.

This holiday job of his went back decades, and it was more than a job. When he had first come to Chicago to be closer to his sisters and my Grandma, the Salvation Army offered him the chance to work for them as a bell ringer during the holiday season. Yes, they pay people in the Chicago area to be bell ringers. He enjoyed making a little cash during the holiday season. Yet, even more, I think he enjoyed the experience.

Over the years he'd talk about The Salvation Army Captain he dealt with that would give him his assignments, or about riding with some folks in a Salvation Army van as they shuffled him to or from assignments. Or the Salvation Army members who would drop by and make sure he was keeping warm while bell ringing on some very bitterly cold Chicago evenings. He'd also occasionally mention the folks he met while bell ringing, or an enjoyable conversation he had with someone that stopped to put some money in the kettle.

I mention all of this because a week or so before his passing my Mother had mentioned how she'd rather my uncle not be a bell ringer this year. He had developed some health problems and the job these days was a little harder for him and she was concerned for his health.

I told my Mom that I understood what she was saying, but told her I thought he enjoyed doing it. He enjoyed the social aspects of bell ringing. The people he'd meet. How The Salvation Army valued his working with them. It was something that was important to him and had a meaning for him. I think that's why he was all set to be a bell ringer again this year.

My uncle and I never talked about it, but I think it boosted his self-worth. Made him feel like he contributed towards something. Made him feel good to get out and help others during the holiday. In a way, that's how The Salvation Army helped him and our family, while he helped them help others.

The Salvation Army here in Sedalia helps many too. This year they have 300 families signed up to receive Christmas Assistance, and 1,000 children in need of toys to have a special day with their families. This, by the way, is just what they're doing to help our community during the holiday as well.

They can use our help too. They're looking for monetary donations, which you can drop off at the Salvation Army, 1200 E. Broadway Boulevard. Put some cash in their red kettles outside Walmart, Woods, or JC Penny. Donate online here, don't forget to plug in 65301 when donating.

Or you can adopt a family in need and purchase specific needed items/gifts for that family that could use your help. Grab a tag off the Angel Trees at the Sedalia Walmart or Menards to purchase toys for a child. Or, like my Uncle Brian, you can be a bell ringer. No, the Sedalia Salvation Army doesn't pay you to do that here, it's a volunteer thing. But, like my Uncle Brian, you'll have fun doing it and enjoy meeting some interesting folks.

For different ways to help you can check out their Facebook page. It's also a great way to reach out to them if you'd like to volunteer to be a bell ringer.

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I recently asked you to fill in the blank... I don't understand why Sedalia has so many______. And you pointed out some of the things we have a lot of. Most of these are businesses and restaurants. So take a look at what you told us and let me know, do we have too many of these places? Or is variety the spice of life?

Gallery Credit: Rob Creighton

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Gallery Credit: Rob Creighton

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